Chilled Coconut Soup with Tapioca and Rockmelon

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl

 

Many years ago, when my sister and I were sharing a house, we’d sometimes venture out for dinner to a little Asian Restaurant in Market Square at Sunnybank. Our restaurant of choice was called Gourmet Court – a cheerful and cheap eating place, which was good because neither of us had any money back then! None of the staff spoke English, and the menu was all in Mandarin, but it did have a helpful photo for each dish. We would always point to what we wanted, smile profusely, and then mime drinking tea. Somehow, this crazy system always seemed to work for us. The tables were covered in red and white checked plastic tablecloths and little vases of fake flowers which was the only decor beside the lucky cat at the till.

Simone and I were always the only Caucasians in the place, and we looked out of place with our pale skin and long blonde hair. At first that felt uncomfortable but we were treated so well that we came to love going there. After we became regulars the owners would usually bring us a complimentary dessert at the end of our meal. In winter it was a plate of sliced fresh fruit, but when the temperature warmed up they brought out this unusual dish – a cold, sweet coconut ‘soup’ with tapioca pearls (made from a form of root vegetable called cassava) and freshly diced rockmelon. It was our complete favourite; cool, refreshing and delicious.

Gourmet Court no longer exists, but I’ve found a way to recreate our old favourite dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. An added bonus is that it’s gluten-free,  and dairy-free. I also make mine sugar-free now too, using a sugar substitute. The tapioca/coconut milk mixture will keep in the fridge for five days, if it lasts that long.

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Ingredients:

1 x cup of small tapioca pearls, 2 x cups of coconut cream, 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar or equivalent (I use natvia!), one rockmelon (cantaloupe)

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Method:

Add the coconut cream, water, salt and sugar to a saucepan and stir well over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Soak the tapioca for twenty minutes in cold water, then drain in a colander. Bring two litres (8 cups) of water to the boil in a large pot, and add the drained tapioca pearls. Stir well so nothing sticks to the bottom, and keep stirring every so often. Bring back to the boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for another fifteen minutes. Then rinse well under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pearls should be mostly translucent and jelly-like with perhaps a few white spots still in the middle. Be careful not to overcook, or the tapioca will turn to mush.

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Add the tapioca pearls to the cooled coconut mixture and refrigerate until needed. The pearls will swell a little more with the coconut milk, and will provide a nice chewy texture.

To serve ladle the ‘soup’ and pearls into a serving bowl and then add a generous portion of freshly diced rockmelon to the top. I served mine to Ben and the workmen here at the farm as a post-lunch treat, after they’d spent the morning slaving away repairing fences in the heat. It was soon devoured!

The rest became breakfast this morning. 🙂

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Note – this is also delicious served with freshly sliced banana, mango or strawberries.

Hot Buttered Apples with Tumeric and Ginger

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
~ Desmond Tutu

 

This sounds like a tasty and warming dessert, right?

Well, it is, and if that’s how you want to enjoy it, go right ahead, It’s yummy and good for you.

But then again, this recipe is so much more…

Ever suffered from drug-induced nausea, morning sickness, adrenal exhaustion, upset tummy, chemo mouth or a complete lack of appetite when you need to be taking medicine with food?

These apples contain spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves – that quell nausea, reduce inflammation  boost circulation and your immune system, fight candida and chemo mouth, and aid digestion. The fat from the butter will let you absorb all of the benefit from the turmeric, plus it gives the apples a lovely silky texture. It’s low in sugar, and soft to eat. When you’re sick it’s supreme comfort food that works to help you feel better too.

I usually make a big batch, but you could halve the recipe, or even double it! You can eat it on its own, with breakfast cereal or porridge, or turn it into a crumble. It’s delicious hot or cold, but if you’re not well, warm apples will be easier on your body.

I’ve made two batches today – some for a friend who is going through chemo right now, and some for us to enjoy at home.

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Ingredients:

12 large Granny Smith apples – peeled and sliced, 1 cinnamon quill, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 8 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1 inch of root ginger – peeled and cut into fine matchsticks, 1 heaped tablespoon of butter (grassfed if possible), 4 medjool dates – seeded and chopped, natvia or other sweetener of your choice if desired.

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Place the apples in a large saucepan with about 2 centimetres of water in the bottom of the pot. Add the spices, and dates, and bring to the boil. Then lower heat.

Now add the butter to the apples, and stir through until it melts. Add sweetener if using. I used about a tablespoon of natvia for these apples. Place lid on pot and simmer on lowest heat for ten minutes or until apples are soft.

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Remove cinnamon quill and cloves before serving.

Serve on its own, or with a dollop of yoghurt, coconut cream (my favourite!) or cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Easy Ginger Poached Pears Recipe

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“If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.”  ~ Mao Tse-Tung

Pears are in season right now here in Australia, and they are one of my favourite fruits!

Poached pears are a delight. These ones have a gingery, cinnamon sweetness that makes them perfect for dessert, or spooned over your breakfast cereal or porridge. You can also team them with savoury foods such as pork or chicken.

They go smashingly well in a fruit crumble too.

You can easily make this a sugar-free recipe. I’ve added the instructions for that below.

Ingredients:

6 to 8 large firm pears (really ripe ones will turn to mush!), 1 cinnamon stick or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 inch of fresh root ginger washed and cut into fine slices or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 and 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of raw sugar or your favourite sugar substitute. (I like Natvia!)

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Method:

Cut pears into wedges, remove core and peel.

(Note: If I use Beurre Bosc Pears I leave the skin on)

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Wash and finely slice the ginger. No need to peel.

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Place water, ginger, cinnamon stick and sugar (or sweetener) in a large pot. Bring to boil, and dissolve sugar.

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Add sliced fruit, place lid on pot, reduce heat and cook for ten to fifteen minutes or until pears are soft.

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Remove from heat, and take out cinnamon stick.

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Serve on their own as a warm dessert or with coconut cream, yoghurt or fresh cream and a dash of cinnamon powder. For a fancy winter dessert, serve with a really good vanilla ice-cream.

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The pears will keep, refrigerated, for one week.

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Baked Persimmons with Crumble Topping

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“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
~ Samuel Butler

 

Persimmons are one of my favourite autumn treats. I use the non-astringent variety for this recipe. These fuyu persimmons can be eaten crunchy like an apple, or left to soften so that the interior of the fruit becomes jelly-like. This recipe works best with fruit that are firm and ripe, but not yet soft.

Eating this dessert is decadent luxury, but it’s a healthy one! Persimmons are high in B group vitamins, vitamin C and anti-oxidants, especially those that are anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory. The baked persimmon is soft, fragrant and luscious, and the topping is sweet, crispy and well textured. Teamed with some cream or ice-cream it’s a show stopper!

Baked persimmons are very easy and this recipe that works beautifully as a hot dessert, but also makes a tasty breakfast served warm or cold with yogurt.

*This recipe is sugar-free and gluten-free. It can also easily be made vegan and dairy-free.

Ingredients to serve four:

4 x fuyu (non-astringent persimmons), 1 tablespoon of butter or your favourite butter alternative, 1 tablespoon of almond meal, 2 tablespoons of flaked almonds, 3 medjool dates, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut (non-sweetened), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,

plus 1 cup of hot water, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Wash the persimmons and pat dry.

Use a sharp knife to cut the leaves and a small disk of fruit from the top of each persimmon, creating a small depression.

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To make the crumble topping remove the seeds from the dates and cut into small pieces. Mix together with the butter, almonds and almond meal, coconut and cinnamon.

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Divide the crumble mix into four, and mound into the centre of each fruit, pressing down softly.

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Place persimmons in a small ovenproof bowl. Mix the hot water, honey and cinnamon together and pour into dish, being careful not to get any on the crumble topping.

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Place into the oven and bake for forty-five minutes, or until topping is golden and crispy and fruit is soft to the touch.

Remove from oven.

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Serve with thick cream and a drizzle of honey. A good ice-cream or yogurt is also a yummy serving option.

Mine was served with double cream, honey, and a couple of gluten-free almond bread biscuits.

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Baked Apple Maple Custard #dairyfree #sugarfree

apple custard

“I hope there’s pudding!”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

 

This is a comforting, warm, easy-to-digest pudding that tastes delicious. It only takes a few minutes to throw together, which is also a nice bonus. I’ve long been a fan of baked custard, and I’ve modified my grandmother’s original recipe so that it is dairy free and refined sugar-free too. You are welcome to experiment with different kinds of non-dairy milk for this recipe. I’ve tried most, and they are all good.

Being a high-protein dessert, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have this on its own as a meal. When I’m feeling tired or poorly I often do.

 

Ingredients:

2 medium apples – peeled and cut into small chunks or slices, 6 eggs, 1/2 cup coconut cream and 2 cups of your choice of soy/almond/rice milk, 3 tablespoons maple syrup or to taste, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a little coconut oil to grease dish, grated nutmeg, cinnamon.

* Note – I have also made this with 2 1/2 cups of coconut milk instead of the coconut cream and milk of your choice. If you need this recipe to be completely sugar-free it works just fine with an equivalent amount of natural sugar substitute. I use Natvia- a form of stevia – and it tastes brilliant! 

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Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius or 300 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a four cup capacity dish, and find a baking tray large enough for it to sit within.
  3. Beat eggs, coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla and milk together with a whisk or fork.
  4. Place apple in bottom of dish and sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Pour egg mixture into the greased dish. Don’t panic when the apple rises from the bottom. It’s meant to!
  5. Grate or sprinkle nutmeg over the top of the custard. (I am a firm lover of fresh nutmeg – once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to the packaged stuff!) maple custard
  6. Fill baking tray with cold water so that it comes halfway up the side of the custard dish.
  7. Place carefully into oven and bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until set.  Custard will be firm under your touch, although it may still be a bit wobbly in the middle.  It will firm more as it cools.

*Note: Oven temperatures vary widely. You need to cook this slowly to be rewarded with a thick, well set dish. If it is cooked at too high a temperature you will have lots of bubbles in your custard. Unless you have used low temperatures in your oven before, you need to check your custard after thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, if the custard has not picked up some colour and begun to set, your oven is too slow and you will need to adjust the temperature up a little. When I cook this at my farm in my Falcon Oven which is fan-forced electric, it takes 40 minutes to bake my custard. When I cook this dish in the city, my old gas oven takes 60 minutes.

Serve hot or cold. The apple will now be soft and moist with a little caramelisation on the top of your dessert. Beneath a light fluffy layer will be a dense rich egg custard that is velvety smooth. Scrumptious!

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Easy Baked Cheesecake Recipe – Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  Coincidence?  I think not!”  ~ Author Unknown

One of the not-fun parts of being unwell, or being on a restricted diet, is that treats seem to be harder to come by. So many desserts are crammed full of sugar, grains and fats. Or they have twenty steps, weird ingredients and you need specialised skill or equipment to replicate the results at home.

If you can eat dairy, you’ll find this fits the bill.  Low fat, made without sugar and grains, and high in protein, it’s suitable for people following High-Protein Low-Carb Diets, for diabetics and for anyone who is gluten-free.

This is a wonderful dessert.  But you can also feel quite happy about eating it for breakfast, as a snack, or following a big bowl of salad or vegetables as your protein fix.

And if none of these things apply to you, make it and eat it anyway – because it’s yummy!!!

I’ve used some fresh local blueberries for this recipe, but frozen ones work perfectly well too.

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INGREDIENTS

500 grams (2 cups) Ricotta Cheese, 3 eggs, 5 teaspoons of Natvia ( a stevia based sweetener), 1/2 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen) 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.

Separate the eggs, and put the whites into a large bowl, and the yolks into another bowl with the ricotta.  Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Whisk the yolks, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and nutmeg together.  Fold in the berries and then gently fold through the stiff egg white.  Pour into the pre-prepared loaf tin.

Dust top with cinnamon. (Cinnamon is a wonderful spice – it helps regulate blood sugar, lowers bad cholesterol and is very anti-inflammatory.)

Bake cheesecake for 40 minutes.  Mixture may still be a little soft to touch but will firm up as it cools.  Remove from tin when cold. Eat on its own, or with your favourite fruits and toppings. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: Don’t be alarmed if this weeps a little as it cools.  Simply drain the liquid away before you store it.  I keep mine loosely wrapped in the paper I baked it in, on a plate in the refrigerator.  The cheesecake will keep for a week, but it probably won’t last that long!

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Simple Baked Apple Recipe

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“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

Nothing says comfort food like a baked apple – easy to make and good for you too. Traditionally my Nana stuffed apples with a butter, sugar, oats and sultana or currant mixture.  My version still tastes sweet and delicious but is dairy, sugar and gluten free.  Trust me – no one will think any the lesser of you for omitting all that other stuff.  They’ll be too busy eating!  Soft sweet medjool dates and ginger give a lovely caramelly texture and zing, and walnuts – well it just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Ingredients: 1 x cooking apple per person – I like Granny Smith Apples for this; plus 2 medjool dates, a tablespoon of walnut halves, a piece of glace ginger and a squeeze of lemon juice per person.  Note: If there is still too much sugar in the glace ginger for you, trying adding a little extra date and some powdered ginger.

Method: Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). Using a sharp knife or an apple corer, remove the core of the apple.  Then take a knife and run it around the circumference of the apple so that you just break through the skin.  This is important so that your apple doesn’t explode when it is cooking. Core your apples Chop your dates, ginger and walnuts and combine them in a bowl with the squeeze of lemon juice.  Mix them well together. Dates, ginger and walnuts Now press the mixture into the empty core of each apple.  Start by filling the bottom, pressing the mixture in firmly.  Then turn over and place into an oven-proof dish. (I find a piece of baking paper helps with easy clean-up.) Keep pressing filling into the core until it is filled to the top.  Mound a little extra over the hole, pressing down well. 2013-04-04 16.43.11 Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes. To serve, simply place in a bowl and eat.  They go very well with a dash of cream, custard, some yogurt (try coconut yogurt if you’re vegan or dairy free!) or a good ice-cream. Baked apples are a terrific dessert but do try them for a warm breakfast on a cold morning. Super Yum Delish! baked apple and cream

Healthy Apple Crumble Recipe

Apple crumble has been a family favourite in our house for years. Now Autumn has arrived in Australia all the new season apples leave us spoilt for choice, and they taste positively delicious baked into a dessert.

I’ve modified this recipe so that it is gluten-free, sugar-free and so that it can also be dairy free or vegan. It’s quick to make, rich in fibre, and tastes wonderful as a hot or cold dessert, and will even double as breakfast!

The following recipe gives one serve, which I bake in a small ramekin. For more people just keep increasing the quantity, and use a larger baking dish.

Ingredients for the apple base:

One apple (today I’m using Pink Lady apples – very creamy and sweet and they keep a nice firm texture when cooked. I won’t use any sugar or sweetener as the fruit is ripe and sweet already, but a tart apple like a granny smith may need a little sweetening for most palates), six dates (optional – omit if you have diabetes or a sugar issue), 1/3 cup of water, half to one teaspoon stevia if needed (you could also use maple syrup, honey or rice syrup), a shake of powdered ginger or allspice.

Method:

Peel and core apple and chop into small pieces.

Add apple to saucepan with water and sweetener if the apple is tart, and turn to medium heat. After a minute or two add the chopped dates if you are using them.  Add a little ginger or allspice to season.

Stir often over medium heat until the liquid cooks off and the apple has changed colour.

Spoon into a ramekin or small dish, (or enjoy on its own as stewed fruit – great with yoghurt, on porridge or cereal, or even over ice-cream).

Crumble topping ingredients:

One tablespoon dessicated coconut, one tablespoon mixed seeds (optional but great for protein and fibre), one tablespoon rolled oats (if you’re celiac you may want to use a tablespoon of either gluten-free breadcrumbs, puffed rice/millet/buckwheat or a good gluten-free cereal), a little sweetener of your choice if you wish, one teaspoon of butter, vegan/vegetarian butter substitute or if you are mad on coconut like me, one teaspoon of coconut oil or cream.

The seed mix I use is called Kapai Puku. It’s available online but not everywhere – there’s a good post about it, and how you can make your own substitute here.

Method:

Rub crumble ingredients together with your fingers so that it becomes clumpy. (Very un-technical term – sorry!)

Sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake in moderate oven until the top browns – around ten minutes.

Eat with great gusto – can be served with yoghurt, coconut cream, cream or ice-cream. Or enjoy it on its own. Comfort food at its finest.

Home-made fresh Orange Jelly Recipe

This is a delicious old-fashioned jelly recipe that is firm enough to be used for a molded dessert. It’s quick to prepare and after you’ve tried it I’m sure you’ll prefer it to packet jellies. It can be easily modified to suit diabetics by using a sweetener instead of sugar, and is gluten and dairy free. If the oranges are very sweet you may not even need to use sugar, or may like to use a dash of stevia, natvia, agave syrup or honey instead if you are on a sugar-free and sweetener-free diet. (I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners but I’m suggesting it here for those of you who use them for yourself or loved ones.)

Vegetarians and vegans can substitute an equal amount of agar agar powder for the gelatine.

Ingredients: Four oranges, plus one or two extra if you would like to have orange segments suspended within your jelly. 4 tablespoons gelatin, 175ml (1/2 cup) of water, 175ml (1/2 cup) hot water, up to 4 tablespoons of castor sugar OR a sweetener of your choice.

Method:

Pare the rind from the four oranges OR zest them if you like a textured jelly. Place the rind/zest in a saucepan with the half cup of room temperature water. Simmer for five minutes to transfer the orange oils into the liquid.  If you chose to use rind parings remove them now.

Now juice the four oranges, remove the seeds and add to the water in the saucepan. Test for sweetness and add sugar or sweetener to taste.

In the half cup of hot water dissolve the gelatin, letting it sit for a minute or so until all lumps have gone.  A fork works well for stirring this!  Add the gelatin mix into the saucepan of liquid and stir through.

If you would like to add orange segments to your jelly ( a delicious textural addition and well worth the little bit of extra effort), use your additional oranges for this. The youtube clip below shows the easiest way to do this. If you are going to present your jelly in a bowl you could keep some of these segments for decorating the top of your jelly after it has set.

Make sure you have removed any seeds/pips from the segments before you add them to your jelly. Don’t add any extra juice though – just the flesh.

*At this stage you may like to add a dash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier for a tasty adult dessert. Up to a tablespoon works fine.

Lastly, pour the jelly into a serving bowl or a wetted mold. (If you wet the mold first it helps the jelly come out easily later).  I was recently given this funky silicone brain mold, and had been looking for a reason to try it out, hence the brain shaped jelly at the top of the page!

Cool in the refrigerator for four hours or until firm.  This jelly sets much firmer than a conventional packet jelly. You could actually slice it to serve if you wished.  It goes well with a good vanilla icecream, or you could whip a little cream and toast some almond flakes for a fancy finish.

I actually served this jelly with coconut milk yoghurt, for people who can’t eat dairy. Coconut cream would be another good choice. It makes an excellent flavour combination. Enjoy!