Homemade “Cocoa Pops”

Cocoa pops have been a childhood favourite for years. However they have been banned from my house since I was about eight years old! Recently, I haven’t really been the biggest fan of cereal but I figure that I may as well create one of my old faves with the abundance of puffed rice I had around the house today (which is super cheap by the way, only about $3 a bag).

So commenced the experimentation of making these tasty treats. I followed the same kind of approach as I would with making a baked granola just without the nuts. Super easy and simple with only 4 ingredients which are all conveniently gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. I reckon that these matched up with vanilla unsweetened almond milk are a match made in heaven so be sure to try that.

Homemade “Cocoa Pops”

What you’re going to need

3-4 cups of puffed rice

2 tablespoons organic cacao powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celcius.
  2. In a large bowl, add the puffed rice, cacao powder and salt and stir until well combined
  3. Add the maple syrup and stir through until it all comes together and the mixture is wet. (if there are parts that are dry and you bake it, it will not taste great…)
  4. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes on a low shelf in your oven.
  5. Leave out to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

cocoa-pops

In other news, I am lucky to be the host of this month’s Growing Edge blogging community event themed “Festive Feeds”. If you would to share your creations, please submit your post via the following link: Festive Feeds Submission. Looking forward to seeing all the wonderful festive inspired creations for both the summer and also from my friends in the Northern Hemisphere. I will be sharing a compilation of all the submissions in early January. Merry December everyone!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

It’s my first week in Sydney for work in what seems like ages! This means meal prep is back on to start saving my coin for my holiday to New York City early next year. I do like salads for lunch, but only if they’re filled with lots of good carbs! A bowl of lettuce and raw vegetables can fill me up for a total of about 45 minutes.

My favourite salad bulky items I love to use are quinoa and sweet potato. It’s amazing how much you can stretch one medium sized sweet potato. This batch of salad I’ve made is enough food for three days worth of lunches! Perfect.

To compliment the sweet potato and quinoa, I have paired it up with a balsamic mustard dressing. Homemade dressings are the way to go to avoid all the preservatives and other assorted ingredients that end up in off the shelf dressings.

So here it is!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

What you’re going to need

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into even pieces

1/2 cup quinoa (I used tricolour for this recipe but feel free to use white, black or red)

1/4 cup pistachios, shelled

50 grams danish feta, roughly chopped

fresh rosemary

fresh thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dressing (to taste but here are some rough measurements)

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

cracked salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray, add the chopped sweet potato, olive oil, rosemary and thyme. Season with cracked salt then place tray on a high shelf in the oven.
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, prepare quinoa according to packet instructions. In addition, prepare the dressing in a small bowl/measuring jug
  4. With ideal timing, the sweet potato and quinoa should be ready at the same time. Set aside and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  5. In a large bowl place the sweet potato, quinoa, pistachios and feta. Add dressing to taste.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

sweet-potato-and-quinoa-salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

So it’s the day that you’re due to do the weekly grocery shop, you open the fridge to what looks like a measly bunch of ingredients which will not pair up together. Wrong. Well let’s just say 85% of the time, I reckon you can still whip up something delicious even if it seems like all you have is the stuff that gets forgotten about in the fridge until the end of the week.

Of course, the dream would be plan meals so efficiently for the week that you end up with nothing left on grocery day. However, as most people work and have other activities planned for their days, there often isn’t much planning around this.

So instead of forcing yourself into planning your meals a week in advance which may not stick, try introducing yourself to the creative opportunity of leftover ingredients. (In saying that, if you are finding every week that you are throwing out the same unused ingredient, then cross that item right off your shopping list please).

Today, I was going in blind. I really hadn’t looked in the fridge properly for a few days and so it was very much a mystery as to what to create for lunch today. I had just arrived home from martial arts training so was craving something fresh and filling. I didn’t want to wait around all day for my food so I saw the cauliflower and used that as a base for the dish. The rest was just odd bits and pieces. Slowly, a dish was coming together.

Cauliflower. Check. Fundamental salad ingredients. Check. Dressing? It is always a satisfying feeling to make your own dressings from scratch. You know everything that goes into it, it will be fresh and most importantly, it will taste fabulous. With dressings I find measurements a little bit redundant at times, it’s a bit of a taste as you go experiment until the flavours match your palette.

Okay so let’s have a look at what I created today from a bits and pieces collection of ingredients.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad (serves 2) Cook + Prep time: 20 minutes

What you’re going to need

Salad 

1/4 floret cauliflower, cut into small pieces

generous handful mixed leaves/salad mix/lettuce

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half longways

1 medium cucumber, grated

2 teaspoons pine nuts

Dressing

1 tablespoon tahini

1 teaspoon honey

extra virgin olive oil, to taste

salt, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place the cauliflower on a lined baking tray with a small drizzle of olive oil and salt to season.
  3. Place in the oven and bake until golden.
  4. While the cauliflower is baking, prepare all the other ingredients and make the dressing. I decided to season my tomatoes with cracked pepper just for an added level of flavour.
  5. In a bowl, throw in the mixed leaves, tomatoes and cucumber. Place the baked cauliflower on top with the pine nuts and then drizzle the dressing over the top.

FullSizeRender

Dark Chocolate Bark

For probably one of the first times ever, we had pistachios in our house. Oh so many ideas were coming to mind for what to do with them! Desserts, crusts, breakfast toppers or just on their own because they’re glorious. I had a bunch of 85% dark chocolate which I wanted to muck around with and make something tasty. So that’s what I did on this quiet and relaxing Sunday afternoon.

In addition, I have recently been introduced to a new blogging community “Our Growing Edge”. The concept is to bring together fellow foodies and to share our creations and inspire us to create something new. This month’s theme is “Allergy Friendly Recipes” and is hosted by Joana from My Gut Feeling.

So some fast facts, my recipe is dairy free because 85% chocolate. Enough said. Also conveniently gluten and egg free for anyone worried about those too!

This recipe is oh so easy. The longest part of it is melting the chocolate! Honestly, quick, convenient and you will be able to consume it within half an hour of you making it (just to make extra sure that the chocolate has completely set!) Okay let’s get to it.

Dark Chocolate Bark

What you’re going to need

50 grams > 70% dark chocolate (if 85% is too bitter for you, feel free to use 70% instead to still get it dairy free)

small handful pistachios, shells removed and ready to go

small handful raspberries

pinch, cracked sea salt

Method

  1. Melt your chocolate using your preferred method. (Just please for your sake, do not get any water/moisture near the chocolate!!! Seized chocolate is the worst and just ruins your day so be careful.)
  2. In a lined shallow baking tin, pour melted chocolate and spread evenly. Once even, sprinkle and mix of the pistachios and raspberries ensuring they are embedded enough in the chocolate so that they won’t roll off!)
  3. Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt.
  4. Freeze for up to 30 minutes or until chocolate has re set. Break pieces off and devour!

Dark Chocolate Bark

For more info about the “Our Growing Edge” community: Our Growing Edge

And to take a look at the host of this month’s Growing Edge theme: My Gut Feeling

our-growing-edge-badge

Salted Caramel Bliss Balls

As much as I adore PB choc bliss balls, thought it was time to try something else! Whoever thought of bringing sweet and savoury flavours into one dish is a genius. I have taken that concept and put it into my bliss balls as they are fast becoming one of my favourite work snacks.

Bliss balls are super easy, jam packed full of deliciousness and will keep you full for your afternoon! These are dairy, gluten and refined sugar free!

Salted Caramel Bliss Balls (yielded 8 for me but will depend how big you roll them)

What you’re going to need

1 cup dates, chopped (soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes if not moist)

3/4 cup walnuts (soak in cold water for 30 minutes – optional)***

1/2 tablespoon rice malt syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sprinkle cinnamon

cracked sea salt (to taste)

desiccated coconut for rolling

Method

  1. In a food processor, add of the ingredients except the coconut.
  2. Process until ingredients are well combined.
  3. On a plate, add a few spoons of desiccated coconut. Using gloves, a spoon or bare hands, roll the mixture into evenly sized bliss balls.
  4. Roll each ball through the coconut. Repeat until all the bliss ball mixture has been used.
  5. Store in the fridge/freezer and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Bliss Balls

*** The bliss balls will still turn out wonderfully without soaking the nuts prior to blending, but soaking them makes them so so creamy and perfect for these sweet treats!

Strawberry and Cream Cups

As a big fan of dessert, I always make sure there is something delectable either in my fridge or freezer for me to devour straight after dinner.

The whole lactose intolerance thing unfortunately deters me from eating ice cream at home (which sucks because I used to eat it all the time). Alas, everything coconut has become my new favourite dairy substitute for creating desserts and so led to today’s creation.

Desserts for me don’t have to be super sweet to be enjoyable. This dessert I find is just the right balance of sweet, creamy and a bit of tartness from the strawberries. This recipe requires just 5 ingredients and about 15 minutes of your time (plus freezing time)

Once again, silicone moulds are the way to go with this kind of food preparation just for ease of removal!

Strawberry and Cream Cups (yields 6)

What you’re going to need

Strawberry Layer

6 strawberries, pureed

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Cream Layer

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Place your silicone moulds on a tray that will fit in the freezer. Mix the pureed strawberries and maple syrup together in a bowl. Pour even amounts into each mould then place the tray in the freezer.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the coconut cream, oil and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Check the strawberry layer in the freezer. If slightly firm to the touch, remove the tray and pour even amounts of cream into each mould.
  4. Place tray back in the freezer until cream has completely set. (1-2 hours)
  5. When ready to eat, pull out of the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before consuming.

Strawberry and Cream Cups

Potato and Zucchini Waffles

Ever since I was recently gifted a waffle maker, I seemed to have stumbled across so many creative things you can do with it!

The waffle maker has been proving to be incredibly handy in the kitchen. It’s one of those ‘leave and forget’  for a while gizmos. Using the waffle maker too means that less ingredients are involved for holding the mixture together!

Lunch today was these tasty potato and zucchini waffles. These are super duper quick and easy and require very minimal preparation. They are also conveniently dairy free, gluten free and egg free.

Potato and Zucchini Waffles (yields 2)

What you’re going to need

1 medium-large potato, peeled and grated

1/2 zucchini, grated

fresh rosemary, roughly chopped with stem removed

fresh thyme, stems removed

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Using a tea towel or your hands, squeeze out as much of the liquid from the potato and zucchini as you can (the drier the crispier they will go)
  2. Once squeezed, place in a bowl with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix through until evenly distributed.
  3. Prepare your waffle maker. (My waffle makes two square waffles at a time and still has functioning non stick but if yours doesn’t, I’d suggest a light spray of oil). Add even amounts of mixture making sure it is packed in really tightly.
  4. Close and lock the waffle maker and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until they are crispy brown on the outside and lift out with ease.
  5. Serve with sauce of your choosing (I went with sweet chilli)

Potato Waffles