Stewed rhubarb

I love stewed fruit: apples, peaches and of course rhubarb. Stewed fruits don’t need to be seen as a winter only dessert and they can work beautifully when chilled and even enjoyed at breakfast time. My recipe for stewed rhubarb is delicious and uses no refined sugars, so simple and tastes amazing when layered with yoghurt and my toasted muesli.

Ingredients

1 bunch fresh rhubarb cut roughly into chunks
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
Dash of good vanilla extract
10 dried dates roughly chopped
1 teaspoon coconut sugar, optional

  • Add all of the ingredients in a saucepan and add a dash of water to entice the ingredients to steam. Pop a lid on and stir occasionally.
  • Taste for sweetness and add extra dates or a drizzle of honey if you’d like a sweeter taste.
  • It should take 8-10 minutes on a low heat for the rhubarb to soften.
  • Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick before enjoying.

* Layer the rhubarb with a mixture of natural yoghurt and/or cottage cheese and/or smooth ricotta mixed through with a dash of vanilla extract and then add a layer of my toasted muesli or some toasted nuts and desiccated coconut.

** You could use dried apricots or apples instead of dates if you like, get creative with natural sweeteners.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a great source of vitamin C and it also contains vitamin K that is known to protect the bones and help ward off some types of cancer. It’s great for digestion and a good source of fibre that can also help lower cholesterol.  It’s delicious and a versatile ingredient for all of your pies, bakes, puddings and even tasty when eaten raw when dipped in some honey. Yum

Chocolate crackle slice

I subscribe to health and fitness magazines, I love them. I also devour cooking books and scour the web for ‘healthy’ recipes to inspire my kitchen experiments. When it comes to ‘healthy’ treats like ‘energy’ bars or chocolate slices I’m often shocked at the high sugar content, especially with the overload of added dried fruit in most recipes.

I created this chocolate crackle slice when trying to emulate the traditional chocolate crackles that many Australian children have grown up enjoying at kids parties. The traditional version uses butter, milk chocolate and other not so healthy ingredients. My slice on the other hand, is nutritious, crunchy and coconutty and it makes you feel like you’re eating something naughty from your childhood. You can play with the ingredient variations but the key is to ensure that your mixture is wet enough to set. This recipe makes 24 squares and pleases both kiddies and ‘adult-children’ alike.

Wet ingredients

10 dried dates
1 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon brown rice malt syrup or honey
8-10 tablespoon water

Dry ingredients

1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup puffed rice
¼ cup pepitas
¼ cup craisins (dried cranberries)
¼ cup cacao nibs (optional)
3 tablespoons coconut butter, melted

  • Place the wet ingredients in a hand held mixer and blend until well combined. The mixture needs to be moist (think chocolate crackle consistency).
  • Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, including the melted coconut butter and stir well ensuring that all of the ingredients are well coated.
  • Spoon the chunky mixture in a brownie dish lined with baking paper, press the mixture down firmly with the back of a spoon and refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into squares.

 

* Once the slice has solidified you could decorate your squares by drizzling with melted chocolate. Try using white chocolate for a cheeky treat as the contrast between the rich dark slice and the white chocolate looks beautiful.

** This slice freezes well. Cut into squares and wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 2 weeks. The slice also tastes great semi-frozen.

Chocolate pudding (microwaved & guilt free)

You know those nights when you crave something chocolatey but you want something more substantial than just a hot chocolate? Your mind starts thinking I’d love a warm choc brownie right now, or just a small slice of mud cake… Well I invented this super quick and easy concoction using organic cocoa when I was in a great need of such desperation but had no time or ingredients to ‘bake’. Not only is this recipe fool-proof, it’s also healthy and satisfying. And trust me the coconut oil makes all the difference. So here it is, the recipe that all my friends have been requesting!

Wet ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil melted
3 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey

Dry ingredients

3 tablespoons self raising flour
1 ½ tablespoons organic cocoa
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup frozen berries
Tiny pinch of salt

  • In a ramekin mix together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix very well.
  • Microwave for 45 seconds or until cooked and enjoy.

* You can add coffee or any flavourings to the uncooked chocolate mixture. Frozen berries work beautifully as do sour cherries in syrup – Black Forrest anyone?

Cocoa

Organic cocoa is derived from the bean of the cacao tree and is most well known to be the source of chocolate. Nevertheless the chocolate many of us binge on has lots of added fats and sugars and is often highly processed. The high sugar content in cheaper commercial chocolate is also what causes us to crave it so much. Cocoa in its natural state however, is very high in magnesium which relaxes your body and also helps alleviate stress. It is also high in iron and chromium that helps your body metabolise efficiently. This guilt free recipe is ideal for anyone wanting a pick me up chocolate hit that will really improve your mood and health.

Banana berry loaf cake

My mum makes the yummiest banana bread/cake IN THE WORLD and I used to gobble hers up, toasted of course, without a second thought. That was until I asked her how she made it. On a baking Sunday afternoon I sat on the kitchen bench, like a good student, and watched my mum use super ripe bananas that were naturally sweet (tick) but then she added a massive amount of olive oil to make the banana bread super moist! I was shocked at how much oil she used!

Through the years I came up with this ‘healthier’ version of banana cake which uses yoghurt, almond meal and coconut butter to achieve that desired moist texture. While there are quite a few ingredients, the berries, coconut and walnuts make this loaf cake extra delicate and pretty. Enjoy!

Dry ingredients

1 cup almond meal
1 cup wholemeal flour
Tiny pinch of salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Wet ingredients

2 eggs
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract
½ cup honey
½ cup coconut butter, melted
⅛ cup olive oil
½ cup plain yoghurt
3 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

Extras

½ cup toasted desiccated coconut
½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh mixed berries

  • Preheat the oven to 180c.
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Beat your eggs in a separate bowl and when they are light and golden stir through the remaining wet ingredients. (I use an electric mixer and beat the eggs for approx. 2 mins)
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix gently.
  • Once the base mixture is well combined gently fold through the walnuts, coconut and berries. Try to be gentle so the berries can keep their plump shape.
  •  Transfer the mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown. Please be sure to check that the centre of your loaf cake is cooked through with a skewer.
  • Let the cake cool slightly before cutting and serving.

* My preference is to use frozen berries as they tend to keep their shape better than fresh squishy berries when cooked, but you can always use what’s in season.

** When I take the loaf cake out of the oven I like to glaze it with some warmed honey and then sprinkle over some toasted coconut and berries.

Wholemeal Flour

This loaf cake uses both almond meal and wholemeal flour – both of which are terrific alternatives to processed white flour. Wholemeal flour is a great source of fibre and it also has a lower glycemic index than white flour which keeps your blood sugar levels steady and helps avoid blood sugar spikes or crashes in your energy. Interestingly wholemeal flour also contains a variety of vitamins like folate. When choosing your wholemeal flour try to buy 100%  whole-wheat flour as different brands can be mixed with white flour or manufactured differently.