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.

 

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

Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

 

My all time favourite easter treat used to be the mini caramel filled eggs. I LOVED the combination of the milk chocolate and flowing, slightly salty, caramel. However, as they are made almost entirely from milk, refined sugar and additives, unfortunately they are not something I choose to eat anymore.

I was also given an article in the paper recently that equated various types of easter eggs to slices of bread. One mini caramel egg is equal to 1.1 slices of bread. That would mean a packet, which (lets face it) is pretty easy to demolish in one sitting, equals 11 slices of bread!! That’s pretty horrifying and even more incentive to try and find something a little healthier to indulge in over the easter holiday.

So with the mini caramel egg flavours in mind, this is my recipe for raw chocolate salted caramel cups. The raw chocolate in the recipe has an intense chocolate flavour and the salted caramel layer is pretty amazing considering it’s made entirely without refined sugar! They are also completely dairy and gluten free, and being raw means all the inherent nutrients in the ingredients are still intact meaning these salted caramel cups are rich in antioxidants (from the the cacao) minerals and fibre (from the dates).

They are pretty easy to make too. For the chocolate it’s just a case of gently melting the ingredients and stirring them together. The salted caramel layer is simply made by blending dates, almond butter and pure maple syrup. Then it’s just a case of spooning the layers into the paper cups and waiting for them to set.

I hope you give these little raw chocolate salted caramel cups a try. They are super delicious, especially the salted caramel layer, and definitely won’t send your blood sugar levels crazy like regular easter treats. Enjoy!

Did you like this post? Any questions or comments about the recipe? Leave me a comment in the section below – I’d love to hear from you!

 

Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

 

Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups
(makes 12 mini cups)

1/2 cup (70g) raw cacao butter
1/4 cup (60g) cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil
pinch himalayan pink rock salt
1/2 cup (85g) pure maple syrup, rice syrup or coconut nectar
1/2 cup (65g) raw cacao powder

Bring a small pan of water to the boil and then take it off the heat. Place the cacao butter, coconut oil and salt in a heat proof bowl and place on top of the pan of steaming water, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Melting the ingredients using this method ensures the temperature of the ingredients doesn’t go above 47ºC thereby keeping the nutrients in them intact. Once melted remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Salted Caramel Filling

8 fresh medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, rice syrup or coconut nectar
pinch of himalayan pink salt

sea salt flakes to decorate (optional)

Ensure you have removed the pits from the dates, then place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth caramel. This makes quite a sticky caramel but if you prefer it more runny feel free to add another tablespoon of maple syrup or filtered water.

To assemble:

Line a mini muffin tin with paper cases (or use silicone moulds if you have them). Drop a spoonful of the raw chocolate into the bottom of each case and then place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to set. When firm to touch, remove from the freezer and drop a teaspoonful of salted caramel into each cup, smoothing down where needed. Lastly spoon or pour the remaining raw chocolate into each cup, ensuring the caramel is covered. Sprinkle a few sea salt flakes into the centre of each cup and return to the fridge to set.

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Raw Chocolate Salted Caramel Cups

Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing

Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing

Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing by swoonfood.com

 

This kale and beetroot slaw has made quite a few appearances this summer. I love the idea of a slaw having a superfood punch so I replaced cabbage with finely shredded kale and grated raw beetroot. Carrot also makes a good addition, however it turns pink from all the beetroot juice so it won’t give you a trio of colours (as I’d hoped!). Sunflower and pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch to the slaw as does a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I tried out a few dressings on this superfood slaw. One of our favourites was a miso ginger dressing however it got a little lost amongst the bold flavours of the beetroot and kale. So in the end a spicy chilli and ginger dressing made with apple cider vinegar was the best match. The apple cider vinegar combines well with the sweet beetroot and the spice lifts the slightly bitter flavour of the raw kale nicely.

We’ve enjoyed this kale and beetroot slaw as an accompaniment for many a bbq’d chicken or saucy ribs, but equally it makes a great healthy lunch eaten on it’s own.

 

Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing by swoonfood.com

 

Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing

1 bunch of kale (curly or cavolo nero)
1 large beetroot
3 carrots
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Dressing:

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1Tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 tsp dijon mustard
2tsp raw honey
1 tsp chilli powder
pinch himalayan pink salt
ground black pepper to taste

To make the dressing combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined.

Wash the kale, remove the thick stems and cut the leaves into fine shreds. Use a peeler to remove the outer skin of the beetroot and then grate with the coarse side of a grater. Likewise with the carrots. Combine the kale, beetroot, carrot, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and stir with a large spoon to ensure it’s well combined.

Pour the slaw into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the sesame seeds if using.

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Kale and Beetroot Slaw with Spicy Chilli and Ginger Dressing by swoonfood.com