To goji or not to goji?

Hmmm, what a question! We now have access to many super powders, seeds, nuts and berries that guarantee you will lose 5kg’s in half an hour, and enjoy everlasting inner peace and eternal youth.

If only.

So, is it all a sham? Are they really worth the bank-breaking investment? Well my view is, if you do a bit of research into each of their health benefits and nutrient content, why not give your body the extra vitamin kick delivered from a natural source rather than a synthetic, fowl smelling pill?

“Let food be thy medicine”

Hippocrates said that in 460BC so it’s a notion that has been around for a while. Why not add a nutritional turbo booster to your favourite meal, smoothie or snack? If you buy them in bulk it can be cost-manageable too, you don’t have to go nuts (pardon the pun). It’s not hard to sprinkle a few chia seeds on your morning oats. They don’t even taste of anything and they pack a power punch of Omega 3 which, I’m reliably informed, is pretty good for your brain – and quite frankly, I need all the help I can get with my overworked head organ.

Stay Organised

So what else can we do to make it easy on ourselves? It is rather exhausting being so bloody healthy, but also just as much fun!

Back in my first post I mentioned that being organised is key to being a successful clean eater. This is probably a slight understatement. It has been much publicised that men think about sex every 7 seconds, well that’s probably how often I think about food.

Not necessarily eating but cooking, ingredients, recipes, researching, sourcing and shopping. If you think that’s a little excessive, well I guess it’s only the thing that keeps us alive and if you eat the good stuff, it also helps to keep us healthy. Of course procreation should be up there in terms of importance too but I have a feeling that’s not what the statistic about men is referring to.

Anyway, I’m with Hippocrates. He’s the man, shame it’s only taken 2500 years for people to listen to him.

Back to some tips for being a super organised super clean eater

Here it goes:

  1. Shop at Farmer’s Markets to buy fresh, organic sustainable produce
  2. When home from the markets, chop up vegetable and salad items and store in reusable containers
  3. Think at least two meals ahead at all times
  4. Keep a well-stocked pantry with clear labelling including emergency items such as wild Alaskan tinned salmon and Slim Pasta
  5. Bulk buy dried berries such as Goji and Inca and seeds such as Sunflower and Chia
  6. Try and keep a few hours set aside on Sundays to ‘prepare’ and plan meals for the week
  7. If you can, soak your grains, nuts, seeds and legumes overnight in filtered water ,with a little acid such as apple cider vinegar to ‘activate’ them to be used for lunch or dinner the next day. This sounds really poncy but it actually removes phytic acid, which is bad (just ask a Paleo)
  8. Multi task – use baking times to prepare other snacks such as seed crackers or no bake balls (link to last month’s article)
  9. Download clean eating apps or bookmark clean eating websites for ideas and inspiration
  10. Do not ever walk into a supermarket starving hungry, which means you need to take special note of points 3, 4 and 8
  11. Finally, if you are short on time or can’t get to a Farmer’s Market, you can order organic vegetables and pastured (grass fed and finished) meat online – you can even have them delivered!

So for a recipe this month, I am going to share one of my favourite wholefood chefs’ creations. Janella Purcell is a naturopath, nutritionist, wellness coach, author, environmentalist and TV presenter and these seed crackers are full of wholefood awesomeness.

Seed Crackers (that don’t break the bank!)

 

Seed Crackers made by Sally Harding

Seed Crackers made by Sally Harding

Ingredients

1 cup of water
1 cup mixed seeds like hemp, chia, sunflower, poppy and sesame seeds
Flax meal and pepitas.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 100oC.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the ingredients well, then season with 1/2 tsp good salt. Leave to sit for about 10-30 minutes to allow the chia and flax to get gooey. This holds the cracker together.
  3. Line a baking tray and using wet hands or a spatula, evenly flatten the mixture – getting right into the corners. Make it about .5cm thick. So really thin.
  4. Score into rectangles (whatever size you want them) and bake for an hour, then turn them over & bake for another hour. Then turn the oven off and let them cool in the oven.

Check out Janella’s recipe here: http://janellapurcell.com/2014/04/hemp-crackers-for-protein-week-these-litt/

Featured Photo Credit: Mourner via Compfight cc


Following on from last month’s spherical Turkey Delights, and in celebration of the Football World Cup, I would like to talk balls. In this case, No Bake Balls, where the balls are sweet and salty, gooey and nutty, chewy and chocolaty and gooey and sweet and….good for you! No baking means no fuss, which means you have more time outside the kitchen to get on with your busy life.

But we’ll get to the balls soon. Has anyone made any adjustments to their lifestyle over the past month or even thought about re-organising their day/weekend differently to accommodate some food prep time? I have definitely been inspired to think outside of the box since writing my first article.

Inventing in the kitchen

Speaking of boxes, I am a big MasterChef fan! Not so much the team challenges and tears, more the “here’s a box of ingredients, invent something”  and, to my delight last month, “here’s a box of leftovers from George’s kitchen, invent something”.  I am always amazed by the array of completely different looking dishes from exactly the same ingredients.

The great thing about trying this concept at home is that you don’t have to worry about what it looks like on the plate at the end (unless you are worried about your Instagram cred). You only have to Google the more prolific amateur clean eating bloggers to realise that their recipes ain’t usually all that pretty. There are many a plate of misshapen balls (we’re coming to those soon) and ominously coloured smoothies.  Only last week I added a purple carrot (they’re all the rage in Surry Hills) to my homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and turned the whole pot purple a la Bridget Jones. It tasted amazing but I ate each portion with my eyes closed.

Purple Soup

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with purple carrots

Ok ok, I’m coming to the balls. Did I mention they were ‘no bake’ balls? Yep, you only need a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a knife and a fridge freezer. Who says you need fancy kitchen gadgets!

So on a Sunday morning whilst making my usual batch of turkey muffins (see last month’s article for the recipe), I use my 30 minute time slot while my muffins are baking in the oven to prepare some sweet treats. I do not have a tremendously sweet tooth (my weakness lies squarely with cheese and savoury biscuits), but I do sometimes feel like something sweet straight after I have eaten lunch, more so than after dinner. These no-bake balls provide a perfect solution, they are extremely easy to make and depending on the complexity, can be put together in just a few minutes. The best thing is you can customise your own balls according to your preferences.

No Bake Balls

Therefore, for this month’s recipe, I have put together a handy construction guide for building your own balls.

Base Coat (1 cup of)Glue (half a cup of)Added Texture and Top Coats(half a cup of)Extra Sweetener(qtr cup of)Super Booster(tbsp of)
Spelt flourPure maple syrupRaw or freshly toasted nutsSteviaChia seeds
Rolled oatsRice malt syrupChopped pepitasGrated dark chocolate (+70% cocoa)Vanilla extract
Pitted datesAgaveChopped datesRaw cocoa powderChoc protein powder
LSACoconut syrupGoji berriesAgaveFlaxseeds/linseeds
Raw Cocoa PowderNatural peanut or any nut butterShredded coconutPure Maple syrupCinnamon
Raw or freshly toasted nutsRaw honeyCacao nibsRaw honey
Wheat germSesame seedsRice malt syrup

You will notice that I have listed some of the same ingredients in multiple columns, this is because this ingredient could be used as the ‘glue’ or just as an extra sweetener if necessary.

You only need a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a knife and a fridge freezer. Who says you need fancy kitchen gadgets!

Directions

  1. When you have all of your ingredients ready, mix them all up either by hand or in a processor and then taste. Do not forget to taste, this is your opportunity to adjust and add that extra sweetener if they are not quite hitting the spot. You will not be able to adjust the flavour easily when rolled into balls.  To any combination from the table, I also add a generous pinch of sea salt, it adds a touch of magic every time.
  2. Before you start rolling, wet your hands otherwise it can get really messy. The consistency should be slightly gooey but with enough crumble to allow you to roll each ball in the palm of your hands easily without sticking your hands together.  You should be able to average between 10- 15 balls (two bite size).
  3. When rolled place them in the freezer for an hour and then they can be transferred to the fridge. They will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container.

Enjoy! And please feel free to add your own versions or additions to the ingredients list in the comments section below.

Images credits: Sally Harding

Sally Harding Sally Harding

 I manage the Pop Up Retail business for Lend Lease’s portfolio of 15 shopping centres. It is a demanding role and until two years ago, my diet and health were impacted by the long hours and constant travel and then I discovered that what you put into your body can impact so many other aspects of your life. Two years later and I have lost 13 kilos, I am fitter than I have ever been, I am successful at work and I wake up every day looking forward to the new challenges that it brings.


I LOVE food and I LOVE eating. It’s my favourite thing ever, and, moreover, my hobby just happens to also keep me alive. In the corporate world we call that a win/win. I like to eat on my own, I like to eat with my partner, I like to eat with my friends as well as with my family. I like fancy restaurants, pub lunches, cute cafes and late night take-away joints. I like cuisines from all around the world, I like eating in the morning, in the evening and all day – it is a MAJOR part of my life.

I have a feeling that I am not alone.

I became interested in clean eating around two and half years ago. I really wanted to lose a little weight, undoubtedly gained from my aforementioned obsession. Having always been a regular exerciser, my focus had to shift to my diet to remove the unwanted kilos. I was fast becoming my self-named nemesis: Little Pudding Harding.

In the end, losing the weight became more of an added bonus. My journey became much more fulfilling, opening up a whole new world of edible adventures that gave me energy, vitality and a new-found respect for nature’s fuel tank.

But the journey doesn’t have to be arduous. If you can read, are relatively organised, can spare a couple of hours on the weekend and care about yourself, you are halfway there. You don’t have to be terribly technical. The science behind food is complex and it’s certainly not my forte (I can never remember my antioxidants from my omegas). I am confounded by the chemical composition of various forms of sugars; glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose – which one is good for you again? And what the bloody hell do branch chain amino acids do?

The basics of clean eating? Easy.

When you empty your shopping bags on arrival in your kitchen, lay everything out in front of you. You should be able to tell if it is pulled from the ground, picked from a tree, a (relatively) recognisable cut from an animal or harvested from the sea. If your product doesn’t fall into this category, check the ingredients list on the packet, bag, box or jar. The first ingredient listed should be the most prominent from the description of said item followed by only a couple more components and if an ingredient has a three digit number in a pair of parenthesis, ditch it.  Yeah, that’s my scientific contribution to this article.

I learnt how to make clean, unprocessed, healthy meals. I learnt to be organised so I could keep eating these meals all week. I learnt to use all of my leftovers and never, ever waste any precious food. I learnt how to “freewheel” in the kitchen with a fairly solid success rate with training from the University of YouTube. I learnt that you can make chocolate cake out of black beans and protein bars out of chickpeas. I learnt that you can put cabbage in a blender and mix it with fruit and it tastes unbelievable and you get all of those amazing antioxidants at the same time – another win/win!

I have learnt that it can be a lot of fun.

Think and plan ahead

It is really beneficial to think about food all of the time, which you may not expect to hear. As I have mentioned, I am not a scientist, nutritionist or professional expert but I have taught myself that to be a good clean eater you should be thinking at least two meals in front of the one you’re going to have, and that’s not including snacks. If I cook a roast chicken for myself and my partner, I will only do so with the next two meals in mind, including a batch of stock. Healthy, sustainable and cost efficient, is that the murmur of triple bottom line I hear?

If you can read, are relatively organised, can spare a couple of hours on the weekend and care about yourself, you are halfway there. You don’t have to be terribly technical.

“Oh I’m too busy” is probably the number one objection to eating healthily and yet really the lamest of all excuses. If you are reading this you are probably a professional woman, a professional man, a mother, a father, a student or a graduate. When was the last time you met someone who was not busy? We’re all busy, that’s just how life is now. It’s a million miles an hour, it’s multi-tasking, multi-switching, it’s getting connected, staying connected, getting ahead, meetings, reports, assignments, washing, cleaning, school runs, social athletics, meetings, reports and staying ahead and round and round and back to Sunday evening again. Working hard used to mean doing the same thing really well and now working hard means doing everything really well squeezed into 18 tiny hours of every tiny day racing by in the blink of any eye. And if you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep you should be squeezing all that into even less hours! Whoosh…

So now more than ever, we should be aware of our consumption.

So I’m looking forward to sharing some of the little things that I have found along the way that have helped me to view my diet or rather my lifestyle from a different perspective. Oh I drink red wine and go out for extravagant meals from time to time, hell I’ll even order hot chips.. usually if I’ve had a little too much red wine!  You don’t have to be squeaky clean, life is too short and too much fun but you have to organise yourself to make these allowances.

In the words of Ferris Bueller. “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.

I will leave you with one of my favourite recipes.

Leaders in Heels Turkey Muffins Sally Harding img

Image credit: Sally Harding

Turkey Muffins – The Culinary All Rounder

I make a batch of these every Sunday and eat one for breakfast during the week with 2 tbsps cottage cheese and a chopped boiled egg. A perfect high protein post work-out power bowl! However you could also have as a snack to curb hunger pangs or with salad for a quick no fuss lunch.

  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 1 sweet potato, steamed and mashed
  • Choose any of the following – 1 cup of oats/spelt breadcrumbs/fine grit bulgar wheat/LSA
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 large scoop of protein powder
  • Herbs and spices – I mix it up each week with different combinations (get creative!). My favourite so far is 1 tsp of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a little shake of garam masala. You could also experiment with  paprika, mixed dried or fresh herbs, garlic powder, cumin, ground coriander or just whatever you have to have lurking in your cupboard. Go on – throw it in!
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Mix everything together in ball.
  2. Wet your hands and roll into 12 balls.
  3. Place into two greased muffin tins (I used spray olive oil).
  4. Put in the oven on 180 for 30 minutes and voila!

Helpful Hints

Put the oven on first then get the sweet potato going so that it’s steaming away whilst you grate the zucchini. I can get these ready to go into the oven in well under 20 minutes now.

Featured photo credit: orangeacid via photopincc

Sally Harding Sally Harding

 I manage the Pop Up Retail business for Lend Lease’s portfolio of 15 shopping centres. It is a demanding role and until two years ago, my diet and health were impacted by the long hours and constant travel and then I discovered that what you put into your body can impact so many other aspects of your life. Two years later and I have lost 13 kilos, I am fitter than I have ever been, I am successful at work and I wake up every day looking forward to the new challenges that it brings.