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.

 

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

This raw strawberry tart was inspired by some amazing extra large, juicy strawberries that were leftover from a birthday party. These strawberries were the really delicious sweet kind and were exactly what you’d imagine the perfect strawberry to look and taste like.

When I think of strawberries I naturally think of cream, or in the case of a tart, a vanilla custard cream. I decided to go one better and make this tart with a white chocolate custard cream. And by cream I really mean cashew cream as this is a gluten, dairy, egg & refined sugar free tart of goodness!

Fresh fruit flan used to be my mum’s go-to dessert when entertaining, and it would always receive many complements. What no one knew was it was a flan case made from store bought pastry that she filled with a vanilla “pastry cream” made from vanilla instant pudding with a bit of whipped cream folded through.

She topped her flans with fresh seasonal fruit (or occasionally tinned), and glazed it with apricot jam. The finished flan always looked spectacular and fooled many a guest into thinking that it was made from scratch. Mum was all about quick and easy desserts and this one never failed to please.

So for nostalgia sake, I have loosely based this raw strawberry tart recipe on those traditional fruit flan flavours. The base is reminiscent of a vanilla biscuit base and is made from almonds, brazils, cashews, coconut and dates. It’s very easy to prepare, simply blend it all in a food processor and then press it into your flan tin. I used a large 26cm flan tin but this recipe would work equally well with a standard springform tin or individual flan tins.

 

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

The white chocolate custard cream is made from soaked cashew nuts (I’ve added some notes on soaking below), as they create a lovely creamy base. I combined them with raw cacao butter which brings the white chocolate element, vanilla for flavour, pure maple syrup to sweeten, coconut oil for setting and coconut milk for consistency. This may sounds complicated, but once you’ve soaked the cashews it’s simply a case of blending all the ingredients in a high speed blender and pouring the white chocolate cream into your tart case to set.

Once the custard layer is set the tart is ready to for the strawberries. I kept the strawberry arrangement really simple by just standing them on top of the custard ensuring there were as little gaps as possible. But you could also slice the strawberries in half and arrange them lying down, or you could cut them into slices and arrange them in spikes to create a more art deco style flan.

Of course the decoration is entirely up to you, and if you’d prefer to use another type of fruit entirely, by all means do. Raspberries, blueberries or blackberries would all be amazing, and if you wanted to get really creative you could make a mixed fruit flan using all your favourite seasonal fruits.

This raw strawberry tart will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, although it’s best eaten fresh on the day it’s made. I think it would make a fabulous celebration dessert, and would be perfect for Christmas day!

I hope you give this recipe a try and if you post any photos to Instagram be sure to tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them!

Any questions about this recipe? Do you have a favourite strawberry recipe? Leave your comments in the section below, I would love to hear from you!

 Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Makes: 1 x 26cm/10 inch tart or 6-8 individual tarts
Prep time: 1 hour Soaking time: 2-4 hours Chill time: 1 hour

Base

3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raw brazil nuts (or cashews)
pinch sea salt
8 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp coconut oil, gently melted (see note below)

White Chocolate Custard Cream

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

2 extra large punnets of strawberries, washed and dried

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.

To make the base, gently melt the coconut oil by placing it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water with the heat turned off (see notes below). Place the coconut, almonds, brazil nuts and salt into a food processor and 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. Lightly grease the bottom of your flan tin with a wipe of coconut oil. Press the base mixture evenly into the tin and up the sides, then place in the fridge to set.

To make the white chocolate custard cream first gently melt your coconut oil and cacao butter using the method as above. Place the soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, pure maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt, and blend until smooth. You may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. When the mixture is smooth, add the melted cacao butter gradually through the top of the blender while the motor is running, followed by the coconut oil. These should blend in completely and you should end up with a smooth thick cream. Pour the white chocolate cream into the tart base, smooth with a spatula and place in the freezer to set for approximately 30minutes to an hour depending on your freezer. You can also place the tart in the fridge to set, but it will take much longer.

Once the white chocolate cream is set, remove the tart from the freezer and pop it out of the tart tin onto a serving plate. Prepare the strawberries by washing thoroughly, removing the greens and patting dry. Arrange the strawberries on top of the tart with as few gaps as possible. Return the finished tart to the fridge until ready to serve. This raw strawberry start will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

How to activate 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.

How to melt 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.

How to choose a good 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.

How to choose a good 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.