Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

 

I regularly make a batch of granola each month, so as it’s December I thought why not make a batch of festive Christmas granola! When I think of Christmas the colours red, green and white come to mind so I tried to incorporate these into my original granola recipe by way of pistachios, cranberries, freeze dried plums and white coconut flakes. I added christmas spices to create that nostalgic Christmas smell and flavour, and while it was baking the house literally smelt like Christmas cookies!

We have been eating this granola since the beginning of December and there’s nothing like starting your day with a bowl of Christmas cheer to put you in a festive mood. I think we’ll also be eating this granola on Christmas morning (although I suspect I will need to make another batch before then!) as the oats and nuts are nice and filling yet light enough that I know we’ll still have room for all the celebratory food ahead of us.

This Christmas granola would also make a fabulous gift, especially for someone who appreciates handmade gifts. You could seal it in a cellophane bag and tie with a festive ribbon or even better, pile it into a couple of mason jars, tie some ribbons around the tops and attach a hand written label with the recipe on it.

If you do give this recipe a try and post any pictures on Instagram I would love to see them – tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them! Enjoy x

 

Any questions or comments about this recipe? Leave your comments in the section below, I love to hear from you!

 

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Festive Christmas Granola

 

 

Festive Christmas Granola

4 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pistachios (shelled, unsalted)
1 cup walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1Tbsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup freeze dried plums (or red fruit of choice)
2 cups coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line two baking trays with silicone mats or baking paper.
Gently melt the coconut oil by placing in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water.
Place the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and walnuts into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mash the banana and combine with the honey, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.
Add the banana mix to the oat mix and stir well to combine, then use your hands to rub it all together. Sprinkle the granola mixture evenly over the lined baking trays, then place in the centre of the oven to bake for 20- 30 minutes, stirring halfway.
The granola is ready when it starts to colour, it will still be soft when you removed it from the oven but should crunch up as it cools. If not, return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Place the baking trays on cooling racks and allow the granola to cool. When the granola is cool enough to handle, add the cranberries, freeze dried plums and coconut flakes.
When completely cold, transfer the granola to airtight containers and store at room temperature in the pantry. This granola will last up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container.

 

Festive Christmas Granola

Mediterranean Zoodles

Mediterranean Zoodles

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

 

This saucy tomato Mediterranean Zoodles recipe has been on high rotation ever since I borrowed my mum’s spiralizer (about a year ago!)… and let’s be honest here, this dish is so delicious the spiralizer is probably never going to be returned!

Even though it’s a warm dish, the Mediterranean flavours make this recipe multi-seasonal so we’ve enjoyed it in Summer through to Winter. To keep things interesting I change the herbs and spices depending on whether I want more of a Moroccan, Italian or Spanish influence, but the base of zucchini, tomatoes and your favourite protien essentially stays the same.

The recipe below is the Moroccan version, and you should be able to find the spices ras el hanout and sumac in most supermarkets. If you want to make the Spanish version simply leave out the ras el hanout and add more paprika and sumac, and for the Italian version leave out the ras el hanout, sumac and paprika and replace them with Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary.

Even though this is quite a simple dish made entirely in one pan (which means less washing up!), it’s packed with big flavours, colours and lots of plant phytonutrients.

If you don’t own a spiralizer you can still make this recipe by using a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons, or simple zucchini strips with a knife. If you think a spiralizer might be something you’d get a lot of use out of, you can pick up a really simple one for about NZ$9.

Any leftovers are great for lunch the next day, and this recipe also freezes well if you want to stock up your freezer. Enjoy x

 

Do you have a favourite zoodle recipe?

Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

Mediterranean Zoodles

Note: see the notes above for tips to change this to a Spanish or Italian version.
Serves: 2 hungry or 4 standard
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes

4 zucchini
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
Your choice of protein: e.g. tofu, tempeh, caniellini beans, 2 free range chicken breasts
1 x 400g can cherry tomatoes in juice
1 x 400g can finely chopped tomatoes
70g concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 cup black olives, pitted
pink himalayan salt & pepper

Fresh coriander to serve

First prepare the zucchini by washing well and cutting off the ends. Then either spiralize them, use a peeler to create ribbons lengthways or cut into rounds and set aside. Peel and cut the onion into fine 1 cm pieces, peel the garlic and put it through a garlic press and set both aside. Prepare the protein by cutting into small strips approximately 5cm x 2cm if needed (obviously not for beans!).

Heat the olive in a good heavy based fry pan over medium heat. When hot add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften. Add the protein and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until protein is almost cooked through. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the cherry tomatoes and finely chopped tomatoes, paprika, raw el hanout, sumac and chilli powder. Stir to combine. Lastly add the black olives and zucchini and stir well. Leave to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it is simmering too hard, turn the heat down at this point. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve piled on a plate (or in a bowl), topped with fresh coriander leaves. Leftovers will keep for 2 days in the fridge, heat well before serving again. This Mediterranean Zoodles recipe also freezes well.

 

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

The Lightest Raw Cheesecake You’ll Ever Eat

These Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecakes are like no other raw cheesecake I’ve eaten to date!

They have the most amazing light and creamy, almost mousse-like texture, which is reminiscent of the cheesecakes and mousses I used to make as a pastry chef.

BUT the difference is this one is made entirely without any dairy products, gluten, eggs or refined sugar. Nick even said “I think this is the best thing you’ve made yet!”, which is saying something given he’s not usually a fan of the raw dessert variety.

 

The Secret Is In The Proportions

The cheesecake layer in this recipe has a base of soaked cashews which gives it its super creamy flavour and texture. Coconut oil provides the set and vanilla and raw cacao provide the flavours.

The key difference in this recipe is the proportions of these ingredients, and using coconut milk and a blender to create an amazing light texture. 

The base for this cheesecake is the same recipe I used for these Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes. It’s a combination of coconut, almonds, cashews, dates and raw cacao. The mild chocolate flavour of this base goes so well with the creamy chocolate and vanilla flavours of this cheesecake.

 

Why & How To Soak & Activate Nuts

The reason for soaking the cashews in this recipe is two fold. Firstly it’s to soften them so that they blend into a smooth cream. The second is to activate them. Activating is the process of soaking nuts (or seeds) in water to remove the natural inhibitor enzymes on their skins to make them more digestible.

If you’re not familiar with soaking and and ‘activating’ nuts, I’ve put some notes down below on this, as well as how to melt raw ingredients and keep them in their raw state, choosing a good quality coconut oil, and what to look for when buying pure maple syrup.

 

Make As Individual Or One Large Cheesecake

I usually make these cheesecakes in a 6 hole texan muffin pan to create 6 good sized individual servings. I find this size works for this cheesecake as it’s not overly sweet or rich. However, if you think you’d prefer a smaller serving by all means use a 12 hole standard muffin pan, and if you prefer your cheesecake as a slice, feel free to make it in an 8″ round springform pan instead.

 

Eat Chilled Or Frozen

It’s best to allow these raw cheesecakes to chill until fully set, and serve chilled. But if you need them faster, you can put them into the freezer to speed things up. If you accidentally end up freezing them, don’t worry! They defrost fast, but equally, they taste pretty amazing frozen as they slowly melt and turn into a creamy mousse cake.

Hope you give this amazing recipe a try, and if you post any pictures to Instagram I would love to see your creations! Tag @swoonfood and #swoonfood so I can find them.

Enjoy!

 

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Note on activating nuts: activating is the process of soaking nuts (or seeds) in water to remove the natural inhibitor enzymes on their skins to make them more digestible. The cashews in the cheesecake filling of this recipe are therefore activated. If you also wanted to activate the cashews and almonds in the base for this recipe they would need to be soaked and then dried. Ideally this would be in a dehydrator at 41ºC for 1 1/2 – 2 days, or in an oven on the lowest fan bake setting with the door ajar for about a day. The aim is to keep the nuts below 41ºC so the nutrients remain unaffected by heat and the food still deemed raw.

Note on melting raw ingredients: to ensure ingredients remain in their raw form and their nutrients fully intact, they must not be heated above 41º. When melting raw coconut oil or raw cacao butter, do so by placing the bowl of ingredients over a pot of steaming water with the heat turned off. This should ensure the ingredients do not heat above 41ºC.

Note on choosing coconut oil: it is important which type of coconut oil you choose. A lot of the cheaper coconut oils are heat or chemical processed which destroys the inherent nutrients that have made coconut oil so popular recently. Look for ‘cold pressed, extra virgin, organic’ or ‘unrefined raw’ coconut oil. Even though it may cost a little more, it is WAY better for you. Coconut oil contains high quantities of lauric acid which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It boosts your immune system and metabolism, lowers blood pressure and helps with the absorption of minerals. Even though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is considered a ‘heathier’ fat because lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid. This means it is easily digestible and processed by your body in the same way as carbohydrates as a direct source of energy.

Note on choosing maple syrup: make sure you get the real deal! There are quite a few maple syrups out there that are just maple flavoured sugar syrup, full of additives and often high fructose corn syrup. Pure maple syrup lists only “pure maple syrup” under ingredients and is made by a natural process of extracting the sap from maple trees, evaporating off excess water and filtering to remove impurities. Pure maple syrup is an unrefined sugar and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It contains minerals and antioxidants such as calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc, unlike refined sugar which contains none. Maple syrup is still a form of sugar however, so while it is better choice than refined sugar it is still best used in moderation. Feel free to use less in this recipe if it suits your tastes and if you do decrease the amount of maple syrup, replace the quantity you leave out with an equal amount of coconut milk.

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

Makes: 6 or 12 mini cheesecakes or 1 x 8″ cake.
Prep time: 1 hour Soaking time: 2-4 hours Chill time: 30 minutes

Base

1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
pinch sea salt
5 medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp coconut oil, gently melted (see note above)

Vanilla Coconut Filling

1 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used Little Islands Original Coconut Drinking Milk)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, gently melted (see note above)

Chocolate Coconut Filling

1 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used Little Islands Original Coconut Drinking Milk)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (see not above)

Start by soaking the cashew nuts. Place 2 cups of raw cashew nuts in a bowl, cover with filtered water and leave to stand for 2-4 hours. Drain off the water and rinse the cashews well.

Line either a 6 hole texan muffin pan, a 12 hole standard muffin pan or an 8 inch springform tin with cling film. Place the desiccated coconut into a food processor and blend until it starts to break down. Add the almonds and blend until they are half ground, then add the cashews, cacao powder and salt. Blend until the mixture looks like chunky crumbs. Add the medjool dates (ensuring you have removed the pitts!) and blend until they are well combined. Lastly add the melted coconut oil while the motor is running. Press a spoonful of mixture into the bottom of each standard muffin hole or a couple of spoonfuls into each texan muffin hole (or the whole lot into the 8″ tin) and place the pan in the fridge to set.

To make the vanilla coconut layer first gently melt your coconut oil using the instructions in the notes above. Place the 1 cup measure of soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until smooth, you may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. This should blend really easily but if you do find it taking a little longer make sure you don’t over heat (i.e.cook!) the mixture as the blender blades can create a lot of heat. If it starts to feel warm place the jug in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. When the mixture is smooth add the melted coconut oil gradually through the top while the blender is running. Divide the vanilla mixture between the muffin holes (or pour into the 8″ tin) and smooth the top. Set aside while you make the chocolate layer.

To make the chocolate layer, again gently melt your coconut oil using the instructions in the notes above. Place the 1 cup measure of soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, maple syrup, raw cacao powder, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until smooth, you may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. This should blend really easily but if you do find it taking a little longer make sure you don’t over heat (i.e.cook!) the mixture as the blender blades can create a lot of heat. If it starts to feel warm place the jug in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. When the mixture is smooth add the melted coconut oil gradually through the top while the blender is running. Gently pour the chocolate mixture on top of the vanilla layer of each cheesecake and use a spoon to swirl the tops. Place the cheesecakes either in the fridge or freezer to chill until set, approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

To serve, remove the cheesecake(s) from the tin and peel off the cling film. Place on a serving plate and decorate with edible flowers. These cheesecakes will keep, covered for up to 5 days in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer if well sealed.

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla - pana chocolate style recipe

 

If you’re a raw chocolate lover you’ll most likely have heard of Pana Chocolate. For anyone who hasn’t, Pana Chocolate is an Australian based chocolate maker that produces one of the best tasting, raw, organic chocolate’s available. If you’re luckily enough to live near one of their Australian outlets you might have also tried their amazing raw desserts. For anyone who wants to see what I’m talking about, check out their popular Instagram page here. I have yet to sample Pana Chocolate’s raw desserts, but I have tried their chocolate and it’s pretty damn good as far as raw, dairy-free chocolate goes!

My eating chocolate of choice used to be milk chocolate hands down. The creaminess and melt-in-the-mouth quality of a good milk chocolate was by far my preference over a rich, dark block any day. Dark chocolate obviously has a lot more cocoa solids in it, so tends to be a lot harder with much less of the melt-in-the-mouth quality. The higher the quality of dark chocolate, the less milk products and sugar it generally has too. These days there are a lot more quality dark chocolate varieties available, including some with less cocoa solids making them not quite so hard or rich, however, they still don’t possess the same melt-in-the-mouth quality.

So I was pretty excited when I discovered Pana Chocolate as not only does it contain no refined sugar, gluten, dairy or soy, it also has a rich fudgey texture and literally melts in your mouth! It’s also organic and completely raw which means all the antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals present in the chocolate are fully intact and readily absorbed by your body. The only downside about this amazing chocolate is that it’s usually in high demand so you can’t always find it in store, and almost never find the flavour you’re after, plus it’s pretty expensive too.

Naturally this led me to try and replicate this chocolate, how hard could it be?! Obviously they’ve spent many years perfecting their recipe and method and they source specific raw cacao and cacao butter to create their unique flavour. But it’s not as hard as you may think to create a simple, fudgey, pana style chocolate that you can then add all sorts of flavourings to.

Because I love the qualities of milk chocolate I’ve created this recipe to reflect that with just 40% cacao, and combined it with sour cherries and vanilla. If you like a darker chocolate then by all means add more cacao and decrease the coconut oil quantity.

Have fun with this raw chocolate recipe, play around with the cacao percentage and try adding whatever flavourings or additions of your choosing. Nuts are great, swapping the cherries for freeze dried raspberries, or adding another flavouring such as orange all work really well. And even though the ingredients for this recipe can be a little pricey, you do end up with a lot more raw chocolate than if you were to buy a ready made bar! Enjoy x

 

Have you tried to make your own raw chocolate before? Any hints or tips or questions about this recipe – leave a comment in the section below!

 

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla

1 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw cacao butter, melted
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or rice syrup
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, scraped
3/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 cup (150g) dried sour cherries

Note: the steps below ensure that you measure the coconut oil and cacao butter quantities in their melted form. If you measure them in their dry form you will be short. The reason I haven’t given the measurements for their dry forms (even though this would be easier!) is because it’s much harder to accurately fit solid raw cacao into a cup.

Line a small tray approximately 20 x 20cm or smaller with a double layer of cling film.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil and then turn off the heat. Place a heat proof bowl on top of the pan and add 1 cup of coconut oil plus a bit extra, and stir until melted. Measure 1 cup of the melted coconut oil and pour this into a second bowl. Any extra just pour back into the coconut oil jar. Repeat this step for the cacao butter (about 3/4 – 1 cup dry cacao butter = 1/2 cup melted).

When you have the melted coconut oil and cacao butter together in the second bowl add the maple syrup and stir well using a whisk. Add the scraped vanilla seeds, salt, cinnamon and raw cacao powder and give it a good stir with the whisk until everything is well combined. Pour the chocolate mixture through a fine sieve to break up any cacao powder lumps and remove any vanilla pod remnants. Add the sour cherries and stir to combine.

Pour the sour cherry chocolate into the prepared tray and spread evenly. Place the tray in the fridge or freeze to set (depending on how fast you want it!). When set, lift the chocolate out of the tray using the cling film edges. Peel back the cling film and cut into squares. Store the chocolate in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 month or freeze for 3 months.

 

Raw Chocolate with Sour Cherries & Vanilla

Green Soup with Adzuki Bean Topping

Green Soup with Adzuki Bean Topping

Green Soup with Adzuki Bean Topping

 

This is indeed another soup post, but this soup is so delicious I had to share it!

Soup is definitely a go-to recipe when I want something delicious and warm in a short amount of time. I also love the idea of soup toppings which I first talked about here as they really lift a bowl of soup into something way more interesting and flavoursome, and the combinations really are endless!

In my last soup post I talked about the different coloured soups I’d been making and this is the green soup in that series. You may have noticed when making green vegetable soup that it starts off a vibrant green colour but by the end of cooking it turns murky olive green. A vibrant green soup is so much more appetising than the latter, so with that in mind I adjusted the way this green soup is cooked to try and keep it as fresh and green as possible.

By cooking the hard green vegetables, such as broccoli and celery, very lightly so they remain a little crisp, they’re more likely to retain their green colour. For softer green vegetables, such as spinach, add them at the very end so that they’re only lightly steamed, and any fresh herbs can be added straight to the blender. The result is a very vibrant green soup, which also happens to be better for you as the nutrients aren’t subjected to quite so much heat! The other bonus about the cooking method is it only takes 20 minutes to make, making it a realistic week day meal.

The topping I created for this green soup is a crunchy adzuki bean, sunflower seed and coriander combination, with a little middle eastern spin from sumac and ras el hanout. If you don’t have or like these spices, this topping recipe is definitely open to variations so feel free to use whatever spices you like. Likewise, the soup recipe is a basic starting point. Feel free use whatever green vegetables are in season and that you have on hand, using the basic cooking guidelines detailed below.

This green soup with adzuki bean topping makes a delicious lunch or dinner, and it keeps well in the fridge for about 5 days. Hope you give this one a try, and would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Enjoy!

 

Green Soup with Adzuki Bean Topping
 

Green Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 6 bowls

1 head of broccoli
6-8 stalks of celery
4 cups filtered water
10cm piece of ginger
3 cloves garlic
4 bunches of spinach
1 large handful coriander
1 large handful Italian Parsley
1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Wash the broccoli, celery and spinach well. Cut the broccoli into florets and place in a large pan along with the water and roughly sliced celery. Roughly slice the ginger and garlic and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. The broccoli and celery should still look green and have a slight crunch. Add the spinach and place a lid on top. Don’t worry if it doesn’t totally fit. You are just aiming for the steam from the water below to wilt it a little. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

While the soup is cooling you can prepare the topping – see recipe below.

Once the topping is ready the soup should be cool enough to blend. You should be able to do this in two batches. Start by blending the first half of the soup until smooth, then add half the herbs and blend until you can see they are just mixed in. Repeat for the second batch. Combine the two blender batches again in the cooking pot you used, add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is evenly mixed then divide the soup up into your serving bowls and add the topping to the centre.

 

Adzuki Bean Topping

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook time: 10 minutes

1 400g can adzuki beans
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp ras el hanout
freshly ground salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 large handful coriander, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

Open the can of adzuki beans, place them in a sieve to give them a good wash and then let them drain.
Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan and add the crushed garlic. Cook for about a minute and then add the sunflower seeds, sumac, ras el hanout, salt & pepper & coconut sugar. Cook stirring for a few minutes until you hear the sunflower seeds start to pop. Add the adzuki beans and stir a few more minutes until the beans are heated through. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and coriander. Give it a good stir and then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve piled into the centre of a bowl of green soup.

 
Green Soup with Adzuki Bean Topping

 

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