Sunday, September 30, 2012

Raw Choc-Berry Shakes

I have been obsessed with the raw chocolate milkshake from My New Roots for a long time now.

The milkshake was the first recipe I tried from Sarah B’s (who just celebrated her 30th birthday - check out the cake she made; it’s absolutely stunning!!) gem of a blog and it may not be surprising to hear that I heard of it through Green Kitchen Stories… apparently David showed it to Luise one day and she has been in love ever since. The first of the two recipes I’m sharing today is Green Kitchen Stories’ take on this shake. The second is Earth Sprout Elenore’s raw chocolate-strawberry milkshake deluxe… Mmmm.

Milkshake: romanticised by good ol' instagram 
 Both of these recipes use strawberries as a feature ingredient, giving your basic chocolate shake a little bit of a kick. Moving into summer, it’s so nice to be able to harvest fresh fruit such as strawberries and it just makes recipes like these even more special. I threw a couple of freshly picked mulberries in as well, just for giggles. Even though mine were consumed by the beach, my dream location for this would be in a hammock, looking out of a dam, farmhouse behind me and surrounded by an over-productive fruit and veggie garden on a block of land somewhere that is not here. Maybe one day it will happen and, when it does, I think it may just be pure bliss.

Raw Chocolate Shake (Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)
Serves 2


3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp raw cacao nibs
1 avocado
1 very large frozen banana
5 fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp raw honey
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup water
5 ice cubes

Directions: Blend all the ingredients until smooth, adding water if you are wanting a thinner shake. Pour into serving glasses and, if your desire to consume this can be suppressed for a minute or more longer, chop up some strawberries and use them to garnish the milkshake.

Raw Chocolate Milkshake Deluxe (Adapted from Earth Sprout)
Serves 2 (the glasses pictured are about a third to half of a serving each) 


3/4 cup banana, frozen and sliced
2 cups milk of choice (it can still be raw and full of dairy if you use raw, unpasteurised milk… more later!)
Handful of strawberries and/or mulberries
3 Tbsp raisins
4 Tbsp raw cacao
Dash of pure vanilla essence

Directions:  Blend everything together, adding more cacao or sweetener (such as raw honey) if desired. I generally like thicker shakes so I start with 1 cup of milk and work my way up to reach whatever consistency of shake I feel like drinking at the time :-)

Elenore also suggests that, before pouring the shake into the glass, pressing a slice of lime around the edge of each glass and putting the glass face down on a plate dusted with raw cacao to create a lime-cacao rim. It looks – and sounds like it would taste – beautiful but I didn’t want to do the extra washing up…. 

Unfortunately I won’t be home for the most of the summer as I’ll be in Japan visiting my grandparents again, before they fade from me . I feel like these two milkshakes act as my TARDIS (Time And Relevant Dimensions In Space,  for those of you who are not Doctor Who fans), transporting me into the future so I can enjoy some of the sun and heat before I head into the northern hemisphere winter.  I will miss the sweltering days spent in flip-flops (I would say thongs but would probably offend non-Australians by doing so) but I suppose I will have many more years of that to come … Let’s drink to summer!! Cheers!

- Matilda 

P.S. Speaking of the TARDIS (and therefore Doctor Who), I was absolutely heartbroken by the mid-season finale. I have adored Amy and Rory from the beginning and it was devastating to see them go...  It was a bit like last season's finale where I laughed, cried and nearly wet my pants in fear, all in the space of 45 minutes. However I think I caused my parents to be legitimately concerned about my mental health by bawling like a baby at my computer screen; it was just too sad. You have got to hand it to Steven Moffat though - he writes mind-blowing scripts. Now to wait for the Christmas special... 

Illustration from tumblr

Photo from tumblr

"Raggedy Man, Goodbye." (photo from tumblr)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Greenylicious Super Smoothie

Green smoothies have been ‘in fashion’ so to speak for quite a while. The idea of putting spinach and other greens in a smoothie seemed a bit odd to me at first, although I had no qualms about putting kale through the juicer for a green juice.

The third of the three food blogs I follow quite closely is Earth Sprout, run by the beautiful Elenore (the other two blogs being Green Kitchen Stories and My New Roots - of course!). Elenore is also from Sweden and by this stage you may have noticed a pattern… I LOVE SCANDINAVIA!!! One day I hope to move there and set up shop. Not literally a shop, but you know what I mean. Denmark or New Zealand or Tasmania are my ultimate dream spots, despite them being nearly exactly opposite in terms of climate and lifestyle from where I am now in the sub-tropics.

Anyway, getting back to Elenore, she is honestly THE most enthusiastic and life-loving person I have ever “met” – just reading her newsletters and twitter feed makes me smile! I haven’t tried too many of her recipes to date but it in a time in which I am struggling to find energy to fight off the last of the winter blues, it seemed natural to try her secret weapon… the Greenylicious Super Smoothie.  She claims this smoothie gives her super powers and she may be right. Even if it doesn’t and I’m just experiencing the placebo effect, it still tastes pretty darn good!! 

The basis for this drink is green leaves (duh). However, unlike a lot of green smoothie recipes you see out there, it doesn’t just use spinach. As Elenore says, “You want all kinds of different nutrients/benefits and it’s not a very good idea to stick to only spinach for 2 years. Just sayin!” It’s so nice to see some common sense out there on the internet!! As a health student, I often see nutrition advice and information that is just plain stupid (not to mention false). What is even more frustrating is that a simple click of a button allows people to share these ideas indiscriminately, without having checked reliable sources before doing so, potentially resulting in a bad idea going viral. This TED Talks video (which we were shown in a Pharmacology tutorial the other week when we were covering the fascinating yet confronting topic of antipsychotic medication) addresses these issues in part and is definitely worth a listen if you have a spare 15 minutes somewhere.

I seem to be very easily distracted today. Sorry for randomly switching from topic to topic… 

Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make is this: MAKE THIS SMOOTHIE!! And, don’t believe all the rubbish you read on the internet!  Despite what some fake doctor might say about the amazing healing qualities of the enzymes in spinach, you’re far better off taking Elenore’s advice and mixing it up with kale, sprouts, Swiss chard, parsley, beet greens, lettuce, etc, etc. Also, any enzymes you eat are denatured by stomach acid as soon as you swallow them so you’re pretty much wasting your time in that regard anyway (that’s why the lactase pills used by the lactose-intolerant are bundled up in all sorts of chemicals to stop them being exposed to your gastrointestinal tract until they reach the small intestine where they’re useful).

One final note, the photos for the next few posts might be even more dodgy than usual… We only have one camera to share between us as a family and it is currently overseas with my mum and a bunch of her students she’s looking after on a language trip. Lucky ducks they are. So yes, I'm stuck with my terrible phone camera for the next two weeks! 

THE Greenylicious Super Smoothie (adapted from Earth Sprout)

Serves two (or one hungry Matilda)


1 cup cold, pure water
3 cups (heaped) of roughly chopped mixed leafy greens (organic and freshly picked if possible!)
½ avocado
1 banana
1 apple or other fruit.
1 ½ Tbsp freshly peeled & minced ginger
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of pure vanilla
Sweetener of choice (honey for me!) to taste

Directions: Prepare all ingredients and blend. Add ice cubes at the end if desired!

As you drift off into super-powered fairy land while drinking this (or better still, before you do so), I highly recommend going over to Earth Sprout and being inspired and motivated by her enthusiasm and passion. Thank you Elenore!!

- Matilda

Monday, September 17, 2012

From pathetic to pretty... a tale of sweet potato

My obsession with sweet potato isn’t exactly secret… yesterday’s breakfast was porridge and sweet potato pancakes, today’s was porridge and a sweet potato smoothie. Ok, so maybe I also have an oats obsession (my love for this particular cereal grain may have been a critical determining factor when I decided to make the healthy breakfast cookies from Sweet Potato Soul).

At the same time I revealed my love of sweet potato, I told you that all attempts to grow sweet potatoes at the community garden had been thwarted by the epic soil they create there (this is the explanation my dad gives me anyway, true or otherwise). Not wanting to ruin this trend for fear of exposing his inability to grow sweet potatoes (of all the things not to be able to grow!!), Dad chose to ignore the expression “third time lucky” and instead proudly came home the other day to present me with these (placed next to a biro for the purpose of getting an idea of size):

The only possible way to cook these without losing all the flesh with peeling was to dry bake them. Fortunately, this is also my favourite method. Unfortunately, when I tried this the next morning, these pathetic little guys became even smaller…

Luckily I had a couple of kilos of purple skin (white flesh) sweet potatoes from the fruit and veg shop down the road which I baked at the same time. As much as I loved the pancakes and the smoothies I made with these, nothing beats fresh out of the oven with a dollop of nut butter. The white sweet potatoes are considerably sweeter than their orange counterparts, which are probably more suited to smoothies and baked goods where their flavours can be boosted with other add-ins like milk and honey.

There is also another variety that absolutely adore dry baked…  the purple sweet potatoes. Oh my goodness me!! One of my dear friends had a large area of purple sweet potato plants in her backyard from which she brought me one to try: it was absolutely glorious!!  I was so taken with this pretty purple root that I even instagram-ed it! Cos. That’s what people do these days, right?
Although there are quite a few different varieties of sweet potato with purple flesh, they are commonly known as Okinawan sweet potatoes, or beni imo. Coincidentally, the biro to which I was comparing the white sweet potatoes is also from Okinawa (from when my parents visited the islands about 20 years ago)! Learning that one of my favourite vegetables has its origins in Japan made me very excited but what made me even MORE excited was realising that I will be visiting there at the end of the year!! Inititally I was looking forward to trying the Okinawan cuisine (which is very different from mainland Japan’s) but now I think I will spend my time hunting down every possible sweet potato dish on the islands… 

I thought it would be nice to finish on that note and leave you with a chart of the common names of different cultivars of sweet potatoes… because I’m such a nerd and love displaying information in tables and whatnot :-)

California Gold
Japanese Purple
Carolina Ruby
Korean Purple
Gold Nugget

(Table from the George Mateljan Foundation website)

- Matilda

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Red Duck Eggs

“Did you hear they are taking the word 'gullible' out of the dictionary?”

Yes, I was the kid who responded with “REALLY?? NO WAY!!!” nearly every single time a smart alec classmate would pull this one on me. Of course I’m talking about my primary school days but as the years have passed, I still find myself slapping my palm against my forehead in frustration at my own gullibility.

The most recent example comes with the explosion of the strawberry season. For the first time in years, I can enjoy the juicy red jewels without having to worry about the pesticides in which they are doused (they're third on the list of the Dirty Dozen). They’re also actually tasty, even when they’re not ridiculously sweet. This has been a new experience for me with fruit and just goes to show that it really is possible to taste the nutrition, rather than judging the quality of a crop on its level of sweetness  alone.

 One day when Dad came back from a day of working at the garden, he bounded up the stairs and called out to me “I’ve got some red duck eggs for you love!!”... And me, being me, responded with: “REALLY?? NO WAY!!!”  

I have been reminded of it and ridiculed nearly every day since.

It was worth suffering the humiliation to be able to eat the strawberries but to be on the safe side, I picked my own the next time I wanted some to snack on en route to uni for an afternoon class. I didn’t have my normal camera on me at the time but I had my new phone…

…an iPhone. I am anti-Apple and I have an iPhone!! It doesn’t make sense! I feel as though I am being a traitor to my own morals - even worse because I actually like using the thing. But this is a rant that is best saved for another day.

On a totally different note, ducks eggs are delicious! I couldn’t quite find the words to describe the difference between these and chicken eggs myself, but this article does it quite nicely, as well as also reflecting my own opinion. Unfortunately we won’t be eating duck eggs for a while now though because one of the ducks has decided to sit - I’m very much looking forward to having some little ducklings running around the place in a month or two! 

- Matilda

Monday, September 3, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Cookies

In the summer time (which is fast approaching, thank goodness) I am one of those crazy people who you see strolling along the beach at 4am, trying to get out and enjoy the morning sun and give the dog some exercise by letting her chase the seagulls before the tourists flood the area. There are a couple of dog owners who even manage to keep up this dedication through the winter, braving the blistering southerly winds despite their hands and feet turning to ice.

I am not one of those people.

Maybe I’m simply too lazy because as I’m sure anyone not from here would assure you, our winters are simply not that cold. As a local though, everything is relative. This means that, for me at the very least, anything below 24 degrees Celsius is considered “cool”, below 20 is “cold” and sub-15 degree temperatures are just plain freezing. Apart from the occasion where it might rain (welcome to climate change and the vicious cycles of drought and flood that it has brought upon us), the days are generally quite pleasant. However, I do struggle with the mornings – particularly when it comes to getting out of bed.

This is where these cookies come in. They're great to grab and run when you have snoozed the alarm seven times and aren’t able to squeeze in breakfast before the 7am bus leaves for uni. One thing I must confess is that I have never actually made a batch of these that have lasted until the next morning where I’ve needed them for an on-the-go-breakfast. The first reason  being that they get eaten within a day or two; the second is that I have become increasingly less dedicated to my 8am lectures as the semester has worn on, choosing instead to remain at home and watch the lecture online while sitting comfortably at the table with a nice warm bowl of porridge.

The original recipe from Sweet Potato Soul calls these the “world’s healthiest cookies” which I suppose is about right. They seem more like little cakes to me but I’ll roll with the cookie thing since “world’s healthiest little cakes” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Hmmm “healthy  little breakfast cakes” sounds ok though, no?
Healthy Little Breakfast Cakes (adapted from Sweet Potato Soul)

Makes ~20


2 very ripe bananas
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
2 Tbsp olive oil 
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp LSA
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
3-4 chopped dates
¼ cup raisins
1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, diced very finely
4-5 crushed walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and prepare a tray lined with baking paper.

2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl until they are very, very mushy. Add the oil and syrup/honey to the bowl and stir until well combined.

3.  Add the oats, LSA, cinnamon and cardamom and stir until well combined.

4.  Add dates, raisins, ginger and walnuts (and/or maybe even chocolate chips?!) and combine.

5. Use a tablespoon to scoop out some of the mixture and shape it into a ball in your hand before placing it on the baking sheet. These will not rise/spread so you can put them close together on the sheet without having to worry about them joining together.

6. Bake for around 15 minutes – they’ll begin to smell heavenly when they’re ready!

No need to wait for them to cool, so munch away. They are perfect with everything from milk (cow, soy, almond, etc) to Greek yoghurt.

- Matilda