Super Green Smoothie

Super Green Smoothie

Super Green Smoothie

 

Smoothies are a fantastic way to get a lot of nutrients into you in one go, simply due to the volume of fruits and vegetables you are able to consume this way. Take a green smoothie for example, you can literally pack an entire salad or plate of greens into one glass, yet it’s easy to finish and you don’t feel overly full afterwards. The reason for this is the smoothie ingredients and their nutrients are partially broken down by the blender blades, which means they are more readily digested and absorbed by your body. This in turn means your body doesn’t have to put as much time and energy into digestion and can turn its attention to other important processes such as detoxification and healing.

The other great thing about smoothies is the ingredients are entirely raw so all the nutrients are in their original, unprocessed state. All the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals remain intact, along with the foods inherent living enzymes which are often killed by heat. These living enzymes assist in the absorption of the nutrients which also helps to take some of the load off your digestive system. So by eating raw food in the form of a smoothie, you can maximise your nutrient intake in a very easy way.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing food that you’ll be eating raw is to consider buying organic, spray-free produce. Or an even better, much more affordable option is to grown your own if you can. The reason for this is produce that is covered in pesticides creates more work for your digestive system and liver, which essentially defeats the purpose of eating raw (easily digestible) food.

Making your own smoothies is much more cost effective than buying them and allows you to control the quality of ingredients and flavour combinations. One important thing to look out for if you are buying a smoothie (especially the pre-packaged type from the supermarket) is to check the label for added sugar. This can often be disguised as “fruit juice” or “juice concentrate” which is essentially fruit that has been stripped of it’s fibre and nutrients leaving a high concentration of fructose and not much else. Fructose can’t be used for energy by the body and can only be metabolised by the liver, which turns it into fat and stores it in the body. Alternatively by using whole fruit in a smoothie, the fibre and nutrients act to slow down the fructose absorption and the benefits of the vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and minerals far out weigh out any negative effects from fructose. Therefore if you are going to buy a smoothie, the best places to do so are those where you know the smoothie is being made from scratch using whole, raw fruit and vegetables, such as quality cafes, raw food eateries or smoothie bars.

If you are new to green smoothies you may prefer to ease yourself into them by starting off with a fruit base, rather than going straight to an entirely green vegetable smoothie which can be an acquired taste. A good way to start is by adding a little fruit like a pear, a small handful of fresh pineapple or half a banana.

The following minty green smoothie recipe is one of my favourites and is a nice mild option to start with. It’s a mix of greens, tropical fruit and coconut water. It tastes best when chilled, so one of my top tips is to chop up a bunch of fruit and store it in your freezer. That way your smoothies will always come out chilled, even after high speed blending, and you will always have a stash of frozen fruit ready for the next one!

Use this green smoothie recipe as a base, swapping in different fruits and greens to create your own favourite smoothie combinations. Enjoy!

 

Super Green Smoothie
 

Green Smoothie

Makes: 1 large smoothie
Prep time: 10 minutes

1 cup of coconut water or filtered drinking water
1 cup of spinach or kale, washed
1 2inch/6cm piece cucumber
1 cup of pineapple, chopped, preferably frozen
1 kiwifruit, peeled, chopped, preferably frozen
1/2 frozen banana
1 handful of fresh mint
1 handful ice
squeeze of lemon or lime

Place all the ingredients in the blender and slowly work up to maximum speed. You may have to stop the blender and give the ingredients a stir if you’re using frozen fruit, or use the blender stirring stick. Blend until smooth, pour into a tall glass and drink immediately. Alternatively this smoothie can be stored in the fridge in a sealed bottle for up to 2 days.

Note: This makes quite a thick, icy green smoothie. For a more liquid version just add extra coconut water or filtered drinking water, or leave out the ice.

 

Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free)

Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free)

Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free) by swoonfood.com

 

 

This maple and cinnamon buckwheat granola is what I eat for breakfast most mornings and is essentially the oat and banana free version of the crunchy maple banana granola (what Nick eats most mornings!). I couldn’t find a really delicious muesli or granola that was completely gluten free or not full of weird corn flakey things or added sugar, so I started making my own.

Buckwheat groats are a great oat substitute, especially for a granola style muesli. They’re completely gluten free and are packed full of plant protein and dietary fibre. From there I’ll usually add whatever nuts I have in the pantry, such as almonds, brazils and pecans. Pumpkin seeds and whole flaxseed are great protein and fibre sources, and add to the granola crunch. For flavour I use ground cinnamon, ginger, coconut and vanilla powder, with a little pure maple syrup for sweetness although this can be left out. After baking I’ll throw in some dried fruits like cherries, blueberries and cranberries (ideally sugar free if you can find them).

This granola is super easy to make, the hardest part is waiting for it to come out of the oven as it smells so good! When stored in an airtight container this granola will last for weeks, however, you’ll probably eat it way before then! It’s also great as a snack eaten straight from the jar or sprinkled over the top of a smoothie bowl or chia pudding. Enjoy!

 

Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free) by swoonfood.com

 

Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free)

Makes: 1 large jar

2 cups of buckwheat groats, soaked 2-4 hours
1 cup raw almonds (dried & activated if you have time – see note below)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup whole flaxseed
1 cup desiccated coconut
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla powder
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (see note below)
100g dried super fruits such as cherries, cranberries & blueberries

Soak the buckwheat for 2-4 hours. This part isn’t optional as the buckwheat groats need to absorb some water so that they don’t go crazy hard after cooking and break your teeth! The soaking also makes them easier to digest so it’s win win. After soaking the groats wash them very thoroughly as they let off a mucilaginous substance which you want to remove completely.

Next combine the well drained buckwheat groats in a large mixing bowl with everything except the pure maple syrup and dried fruit. Stir well to combine and then add the maple syrup, again stirring well to ensure it’s evenly mixed.

Spoon the granola mix onto two lined oven trays and fan bake at 100ºC for approximately 30-45 minutes. You are aiming for enough moisture to evaporate from the buckwheat groats so that they just become crunchy and will be able to be stored in the cupboard. They will still be a little soft when they come out of the oven but you will know they are ready when they harden up on standing. If they are still a bit chewy, return the granola to the oven for a bit longer. Once out of the oven, add the dried super fruits to the granola and leave to cool on the trays.

Store this maple and cinnamon buckwheat granola in a large air-tight jar or container in your pantry.

 

Activating almonds: Simply place the almonds in a bowl and cover with filtered tap water. Leave to soak for 10-12 hours. Drain the water off and rinse well. This removes the natural enzyme inhibitors on the outside of the almonds that make them difficult for our bodies to breakdown and digest. Place the drained nuts on a lined oven tray and place in oven at the lowest fan bake temperature possible with the door slightly ajar – I use a wooden spoon shut in the door as this allows just enough gap for moisture to escape (or use a dehydrator if you have one). Dry the nuts this way for until they are dry to touch and easy to crack apart. The rest of the drying will happen with the granola. Again, this part is optional. The granola will still taste just as good without activating and drying the nuts.

Pure maple syrup: Make sure you get the real deal. There are quite a few maple syrups out there that are actually just maple flavoured sugar syrup, full of additives and often high fructose corn syrup. The real deal only lists “pure maple syrup” under ingredients and is made by a natural process of extracting the sap from maple trees, evaporating off excess water then filtering to remove impurities. While it is still a form of sugar it has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar and contains some minerals and antioxidants unlike refined sugar. Pure maple syrup is therefore a better choice of sweetener, alongside honey and coconut sugar, if you need to use a sweetener. However, it is still best used in moderation.

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Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola (Oat free) by swoonfood.com

 

 

Raw Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

Raw Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

Raw Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

 

These chocolate and raspberry brownies are entirely raw, have a whole avocado hiding inside them, and are bursting with nutrients which, I think, makes them taste even more amazing!

Made from a base of brazil nuts, which are a great source of selenium and magnesiu, and avocado, a good source of healthy fats, these brownies are packed with plant protein. Raw cacao powder provides the antioxidant rich chocolate hit, and dates provide the sweetness as well as dietary fibre and even more mineral goodness in the form of iron, potassium and magnesium. Raspberries add a lovely tartness to balance out the sweetness (although these brownies are definitely not as sweet as your standard baked chocolate brownie), and a little desiccated coconut adds to the flavour and texture. 

They’re very quick and easy to make, simply combine the ingredients in a food processor then press into a lined tray. Chill for 30 minutes before cutting into slices. Or if you’re feeling creative use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes! In honour of upcoming Valentine’s day I made these into hearts, and what better gift to give – a guilt free dessert that actually serves your health!

 

Raw Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

Makes: 20 pieces
Prep time: 20 minutes

2 cups brazil nuts (raw)
1 avocado, skin and stone removed
15 medjool dates, pitted, chopped
4 tsp pure maple syrup, raw honey, rice syrup or coconut nectar
1 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla powder
pinch himalayan pink salt
1-2 cups freeze dried raspberries (depending on your tastebuds)*

Line a small brownie tray with a double layer of cling film. Place the brazil nuts in a food processor and blend until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Place the nuts into a bowl and set aside.

Combine the chopped dates, avocado, cacao powder, maple syrup, sea salt and vanilla in the food processor and blend until you have a smooth chocolately paste (this tastes amazing!). Add the brazil nuts and coconut and pulse until just combined. Add the raspberries and pulse again until just combined.

Press the brownie mixture evenly into your lined tray and place in the fridge to chill for half an hour. Once chilled, lift the brownie out of the tray and cut into desired shapes. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*freeze dried raspberries by ‘fresh as’ can be found in local food stores such as Farro, Nosh and some New worlds.

 

Blueberry, Apple & Buckwheat Muffins

Blueberry, Apple & Buckwheat Muffins

Blueberry & Apple Buckwheat Muffins

 

 

These blueberry, apple & buckwheat muffins have such a lovely light delicate crumb, you would never guess they don’t contain any butter, wheat flour or refined sugar!

The idea for this healthy breakfast muffin occurred to me after I found a delicious looking recipe in a cook book, and tried out an adapted (dairy & gluten free) version while we were on a weekend away with family. Despite being located on Kawau island (which has no shops and is only accessible by boat) the pantry at the Bach (beach house) surprisingly had most of the required ingredients, although the only gluten free flour was coconut flour. Unfortunately the first batch of muffins was a crumbly disaster, but my 1 year old niece still thought they were pretty great. I concluded coconut flour on it’s own is not a great choice for a muffin recipe.

 

Blueberry, apple & buckwheat muffins - swoonfood.com

 

I tried the recipe again when we got home with a gluten free flour blend but the recipe still wasn’t amazing when adapted in this way. Determined to conquer this muffin idea, I next tried adapting my faithful blueberry muffin recipe by replacing the dairy, gluten and refined sugar. To make them more breakfast-like I used buckwheat flour for a light crumb and added apple to keep them moist and to reduce the sugar content. The result was…. a winner!

These muffins are best eaten fresh, although will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container. They are perfect for a weekend brunch, lunch or afternoon tea and any leftovers make a great weekday breakfast on the go. Hope you give these blueberry muffins a try and if you post any photos to social media be sure to tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them! Enjoy.

Any questions or comments about this blueberry, apple & buckwheat muffin recipe? Leave a comment in the section below, I love to hear from you!

 

Blueberry, apple & buckwheat muffins - swoonfood.com

 

Blueberry, Apple & Buckwheat Muffins

Makes: 12
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

200g stewed apple (see note below)
80g coconut oil, melted
80g coconut sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla powder/essence
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
100g buckwheat flour
100g brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and lightly grease a 12 hole non-stick muffin tray.

Combine melted coconut oil, sugar, apple, egg, vanilla powder and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand held beater until just combined. Sieve the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir to combine. In a separate small bowl combine the baking soda, hot water and cider vinegar – it will fizz up, so stir it briefly before adding to the mixture and stir well to combine. Lastly add the blueberries – if using frozen there is no need to defrost first.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the muffin tray until all holes are filled evenly. Place in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20minutes, until muffins are nicely risen and a knife inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack before carefully running a knife around the edges to release. Store in an air-tight container once cold. These will keep a couple of days, however they taste the best when eaten fresh on the day of baking.

 

Note: To stew apples: peel, remove the core and cut into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with about 1cm of water and simmer until the apples have broken down and are easily crushed with a masher or fork. Alternatively you can buy stewed apple in a tin which is usually called “apple pie filling” or similar. Look for the kind that has no additives in the ingredients – just apples. 

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Blueberry, apple & buckwheat muffins - swoonfood.com

 

 

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

 

This crunchy maple banana granola has fast become a pantry staple in our house. Up until recently we mainly ate store bought granola or gluten free muesli, as I’d finally found two brands that had little or no added unrefined sugar, were super tasty, and of course very convenient.

Whilst browsing various health food blogs one day however, I came across quite a few recipes for granola sweetened predominantly with banana. The idea of a crunchy, lightly spiced, banana granola sounded super delicious, yet refreshingly healthy at the same time. Plus what also appealed was all the recipes were very quick and easy to make by simply combining all the ingredients and baking them in the oven.

 Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

 

After trying out a couple of these recipes I found they tasted amazing straight out of the oven, but went soft as soon as they cooled. I concluded this could either be due to the method of cooking or a combination of too much moisture from the banana and coconut. Perhaps these recipes intended to produce soft style granolas, but to me the definition of a good granola is that it should stay crunchy right until you spoon it into your mouth.

So never one to turn away a cooking challenge, I decided to come up with my own version that still had a lovely banana flavour but stayed crunchy for as long as it’s shelf life.

 

 

 Crunchy Maple Banana Granola 

 

The recipe below is my winning version and produces a granola that has a lovely mild banana flavour, a little bit of spice and a lot of crunch. It bakes at a lower temperature for about an hour as this allows the moisture from the banana to be released while still retaining the flavour. The maple syrup caramelises without burning and you are left with a nice crunchy texture.

Feel free to play around with the amount of spice, and substitute whatever nuts and seeds you prefer. One thing to note is this granola is made with oats so it’s not gluten free, if you are looking for a gluten free granola check out this oat free maple and cinnamon buckwheat granola recipe instead. Hope you enjoy this granola recipe and even better if it becomes a party staple of yours too!

 

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

 

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola

Makes: 1 large jar
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 hour

3 cups of oats
1 cup of coconut thread
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of pecans
1/2 cup of almonds
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

 

Preheat the oven to 140ºC fan bake and line two baking trays with baking paper or sheets.

Combine the oats, coconut, pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mash the banana well and combine with the maple syrup. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well, with either a spoon or your hands. Spread the mixture evenly over both trays and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are lightly toasted and the mixture is an even caramelised colour.

Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool on the trays. When cold store in airtight containers in the pantry. To serve, combine with your choice of milk or nut milk and whatever fresh fruit you have in season.

This is also a great breakfast on the run, just pop it into a jar, top with milk, fruit and yoghurt and you’re ready to go!

 

Crunchy Maple Banana Granola