‘O for OARSOME’ Ottolenghi-Inspired Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

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TSL Kolrabi, Carrot and Apple salad

(Image by TSL)

Ugly vegetables deserve love, too (TSL)

I may have mentioned before that this autoimmune protocol caper that I’m on has had a side benefit that I never expected. I am far more open to experimenting with new, previously unknown ingredients vegetables. And, even before I committed to the full on elimination process, I was introducing less common veggies into my life. I’ll definitely be making my Simple Sorrel Pesto again, now that nuts have been successfully reintroduced. And, I have been waiting for my recently acquired plantains to ripen so that I can make Knock Out Plantain Hotcakes again, too…

This week I picked up some sexy-ugly looking kohlrabi at the farmers market. I see them sitting there every week and I have never bought one. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never actually tasted one, either. Until today, that is.

TSL Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi
(Image by TSL)

Have you ever eaten kohlrabi?

These bulbous-shaped vegetables come in green or purple. They can apparently be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a little like broccoli stems, although I think they are a wee bit sweeter.

I have always associated kohlrabi with my German heritage (my Mum grew up in Germany), and it turns out I was right to do so. The word kohlrabi is German for ‘cabbage turnip’ (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rübe for turnip). Don’t get confused, though – the kohlrabi is not a root vegetable. Rather, it’s a member of the Brassica family – like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale – which all grow above ground and are known for their antioxidant properties. In other words, kohlrabi is really good for you!

Specifically, fresh kohlrabi is a very rich source of vitamin-C which helps the body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gums. All pretty good stuff (says the girl with periodontal issues!)

As far as actual preparation goes, it transpires the humble kohlrabi is a rather versatile vegetable when it comes to how to eat it. They can be eaten raw—peeled, sliced and added to a salad or used for serving with a dip – or, they can be cooked. A truly multi-seasonal vegetable! They can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled, mashed, stir-fried or roasted. You can even eat the leaves – think sautéed with a little bone broth and onions.

TSL Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad
(Image by TSL)

My first recipe for kohlrabi was inspired by the delicious Yotam Ottolenghi. He’s a big fan of this old-world vegetable. I wrote about my gorgeous piece of pork neck that I slow-cooked earlier in the week, and today I wanted a bit of crunch to go some of the porky leftovers. And so, this salad was born.

And, I have to say, this is definitely not the last time I’ll be cooking with kohlrabi. It may well be my new favourite thing…

O for Oarsome Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

  • Servings: 6-ish
  • Time: 30 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: REALLY easy with a mandolin
  • Print

TSL Kohlrabi, Carrot and Apple Salad

Ingredients:

2 x large kohlrabi
2 x apples (I used granny smiths)
3 x medium carrots
1 x large handful coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, crushed
50ml apple cider vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP)

Method:

1. Peel the kohlrabi, wash and core the apples, peel the carrots. Shred on a mandolin (preferred option!) or julienne into match sticks by hand.

2. Mix all the julienned vegetables together in a large bowl. Add the coriander, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Stir well. Taste and season generously. 

E N J O Y !

 

 

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezey Slow Cooked Pork Neck

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TSL Pork Neck

(Image by TSL)

This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal. (Joel Salatin, farmer and author of ‘Folks, This Ain’t Normal; You Can Farm‘)

My lovely friends at Linga Longa had some beautiful looking pork neck at the markets on Saturday. So I bought a little piece to slow cook for LM and myself. Alright. That was a white lie.  I actually bought quite a lot. 2 kilos worth, in fact. That’s just under 4 1/2 pounds for those of you who don’t think ‘metric’.

The recipe we have on highest rotation here at Casa TSL is my Jamie Oliver Inspired Four Hour Lamb. Only now, instead of a leg, I usually pick up a couple of shoulders and slow cook them together, which gives us oodles of meat to play with for days…

But that’s another story for another time…

Today, I decided to play around with that 4-hour lamb number, only with my pork neck, instead. And, it ROCKED!

I’m a massive fan of slow cooking my animal protein. It’s easy. It’s a great way to batch cook. The flavour is incredible. And, did I mention it’s easy? 

TSL pork rub

Step 1: Prepare your rub by bashing 6-8 cloves of garlic with thyme leaves and lard.

TSL Pork Neck

Step 2: Massage garlic, herb and lard mix into your pork. Add bay leaves and pop into the oven.
That’s pretty much it.
(Images by TSL)

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezey Slow Cooked Pork Neck

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: Couldn't be easier
  • Print

TSL Pork Neck

Ingredients

2 x kilos of happy, hormone free pork neck
6-8 x cloves of garlic, peeled (I used 8, but I love garlic!)
1 x bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 x handful of bay leaves
1 x Tablespoon fat (I used lard)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (omit black pepper if on strict AIP)
1 x Tablespoon Tapioca starch/Arrowroot powder (If you’re not on AIP, use your preferred flour)
375 ml chicken bone broth (or stock)
1 x bunch herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and a little sage)
2 x Tablespoons red wine vinegar

Method

1. Heat your oven to 220°C/425°F.

2. Using a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the garlic cloves with the thyme, fat, salt and pepper. Place your piece of pork into an ovenproof roasting dish (I used my trusty Le Creuset), pierce all over with a sharp knife and rub all over with the garlic and herb mixture. Massage for a minute or two.

3. Place the bay leaves on top of the meat.

4. Cover your roasting dish – either with a lid or firmly with foil and pop it into the oven. As soon as you close the oven door, reduce the heat to 160°C/320°F.

5. Walk away for four hours and let the meat, garlic and herbs work their magic.

6. Remove the pork from the roasting dish and onto a carving board. Cover with foil and allow to rest.

7. Discard the bay leaves. Put the roasting dish on the stove over a medium heat.

8. Mix the starch with a little bone broth and add to your roasting pan. Allow to bubble for a minute.

9. Add the rest of the bone broth, making sure you scrape all the meaty bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

10. While the gravy is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

11. Add the chopped herbs and red wine vinegar to your sauce. Taste for seasoning. Serve!

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix Recipe Roundtable

ROCKING Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

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TSL Rhubarb abd Strawberry Compote

(Image by TSL)

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know. (Groucho Marx)

LM loves rhubarb. And, I mean really loves it. 

Rhubarb is fairly ubiquitous at our farmers market on Saturday mornings. But, for some reason, it has been a while since I bought some. Not sure why – it is so easy to cook.

…I guess the big thing about rhubarb is that it usually requires quite a bit of sugar to make it really sing. And, it is fair to say that this recipe is no exception. Just because I have used coconut syrup and strawberries doesn’t mean it isn’t still a pretty sugar-heavy choice. But, as with most things in life, it’s all relative!

We are pretty careful about our sugar intake here at Casa TSL.

Having said that, LM still has a seriously sweet tooth (I may have mentioned that once or twice before!) and I guess there are far worse options in the sugar stakes than my take on rhubarb and strawberry compote.

TSL Strawberries

Take a few strawb’s…

TSL Rhubarb

Add some chopped rhubarb…

TSL Strawberries and Rhubarb

And together you have a magical combination!
(Images by TSL)

Compote is really just a fancy way of saying ‘stewed fruit’. And, when I say stewed fruit, I always think of custard (another of LM’s favourites!). Guess I better hurry up and reintroduce eggs – successfully! – so that I can whip up a dairy-free custard to go with LM’s rhubarb and strawberries…

As with almost all of my recipes, this one is a doddle to make, but big on flavour. We’re heading into summer down here, but I bet it would taste fabulous in the winter-time made with frozen strawberries and served over a grain free porridge option for breakfast…

ROCKING Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

  • Servings: 6-ish
  • Time: 30 minutes tops
  • Difficulty: could not be more simple
  • Print

TSL Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Ingredients:

1 x bunch organic rhubarb (approx. 450g when washed, trimmed and chopped)
1 x pun net organic strawberries (approx. 250g when washed, topped and chopped)
2 – 3 x Tablespoons coconut syrup (or maple syrup or honey)*
1/2 x teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 x Tablespoons filtered water
Fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Method

1. Wash your rhubarb and then trim and chop into 3cm pieces. Wash your strawberries, and then top and quarter them. Throw into a sized medium pot. Add water, coconut syrup and cinnamon.

2. Bring to a simmer, stir, and then cook until the rhubarb softens (between 5 and 10 minutes).

3. That’s it! All done.

4. Serve your compote either warm or cold as a breakfast accompaniment to nutola and coconut yoghurt, or for dessert over vanilla ice cream (dairy free, of course!)

*I used 2 Tablespoons but you may prefer your compote sweeter

E N J O Y !

Autoimmunity and the Removal of Nightshades From Your Diet

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TSL Tomatoes Image

Three tomatoes are walking down the street – a papa tomato, a mama tomato and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Papa tomato get angry, goes over to Baby tomato and squishes him… and says ‘Ketchup!’ (Uma Thurman in ‘Pulp Fiction’)


Back in July, I detailed some of my autoimmune story in a post about
all disease beginning in the gut. Wow – I can’t believe that was almost 3 months ago.

I am absolutely convinced that my autoimmune issues stem from a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors over the years that have contributed to my unhealthy gut. And, while this year has been one of massive diet and lifestyle change, it has also been one of amazing discovery. And – the best bit – its working! And, it has is leading to a career change for me…

The Autoimmune Protocol premise of removing all potentially inflammatory foods from your diet to heal your gut, is one that most people seem to get their heads around quite easily. The idea of removing foods like ‘gluten’, ‘sugar’, ‘dairy’, ‘trans fats’, and – to some extent – even ‘grains’ and ‘legumes’ (pulses), while not yet mainstream, are at least concepts many people have at least heard of…

Not so, when it comes to foods from the nightshade family. What on earth is a nightshade? 

nightshade family
noun
the plant family Solanaceae, characterised by herbaceous plants, trees, shrubs, and vines having alternate, simple or pinnate leaves, conspicuous flowers, and fruit in the form of a berry or capsule, and including belladonna, eggplant, nightshade, peppers of the genus Capsicum, petunia, potato, tobacco, and tomato.

Nightshades are e v e r y  w h e r e. And, because most people have no idea what a nightshade is, they don’t know what it means when you tell them you can’t eat them.

Forget about leaving tomatoes out of your salad or forgoing that baba ganoush at a party; sneaky nightshades slip into salad dressings, spice mixes (curry, anyone?), and even supplements without you ever knowing…

Want a wee list?

TSL Nightshades Graphic

(Graphic by TSL)

But, why should we be worried about nightshades? Aren’t they just vegetables?

Well, nightshades contain lectins, saponins and some contain capsaicin.

Let’s take these one by one.

All plants contain some lectins. Lectins are a group of sugar-binding proteins which protect them against being eaten. And, while not all lectins can cause problems, you want to remove the ones with the ability to increase intestinal permeability, especially while trying to heal your gut. According to Sarah Ballantyne, “there is huge variability the effect of different dietary lectins, from pro-inflammatory and promoting a leaky gut on one end of the spectrum to completely harmless and even potentially therapeutic on the other.”

She goes on to explain, “tomato lectin is known to enter the blood stream relatively quickly in humans, which suggests that tomato lectin can contribute to the development of a leaky gut”. So, sadly for me, tomatoes sit at the pro inflammatory end of the spectrum.

Saponins are often most concentrated in the seed of a plant. Nightshades are high in saponins and this compound is another way certain plants can contribute to a leaky gut. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, any saponins that have an adjuvant – a chemical that stimulates and exaggerates an immune response – you increase the chances that your body will attack itself.

Finally, capsaicin, is a stimulant found in heat-inducing foods like chilli peppers. Capsaicin can prove to be a strong irritant to many areas of your body, including (but definitely not limited to) your skin, your eyes and your mucous membranes. And, capsaicin can increase your intestinal permeability, too.

When you cut that eggplant up and you roast it in the oven and you make the tomato sauce and you put it on top, your soul is in that food, and there’s something about that that can never be made by a company that has three million employees.(Mario Batali)

I’m not so sure that removing nightshades affects the soul of my cooking in the way Mr Batali suggests, but it certainly changes it in a big way. Think of all the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South American-inspired recipes that contain tomatoes, chilli or eggplant?

Going nightshade free certainly forces a girl to get more creative in the kitchen. But, it is possible to adapt. I’m living proof of that!

If you’d like to learn more about the science behind why nightshades should be avoided on the autoimmune protocol, please head to Sarah Ballantyne’s site at The Paleo Mom.

If you’d like to check out some nightshade-free recipes, a couple that are on high rotation here at Casa TSL are my Ridiculously Good Herbed Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks and my Osso Buco – AIP Style.

Brothl – Melbourne’s Secret Weapon for Those on a Restricted Diet!

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TSL Brothl

(Image by TSL)

If you’re travelling to Melbourne while on the Autoimmune Protocol, have I got the BEST news for you?

I’ve just spent six days in gorgeous Melbourne. Every time I visit, I wonder why I don’t  go there more often. S U C H a great city.

This is the first time I have visited Melbourne (or travelled anywhere, really) while on a restricted diet. And, those of us who suffer from food intolerances and sensitivities know just how challenging it can be to find somewhere to eat that both meets your dietary needs AND – even more importantly – that you can trust to deliver on their promises.

Well. If you’re visiting Melbourne, look no further. I give you…

B R O T H L

Hidden away in a wee lane way in central Melbourne is my new favourite place in all of the city. I’m not kidding – I ate here 4 times during the course of my six-day stay. And, I would have gone more often if possible. It’s THAT good! The only complaint I have about Brothl is that it’s not in Sydney. Right next to Casa TSL!

The brain child of Dutch-born Joost Bakker, Brothl’s premise is to ‘imagine a world without waste’… Using philosophies of both sustainability and providing nutrient dense-food, Brothl is a broth house.

You select from one of four different broths – vegetable, fish, chicken or beef – which provide a ‘base flavour’ as you then choose accompanying flavours to suit your mood and palate. Think braised beef brisket, happy bacon, offal of the day, foraged kelp, seasonal vegetables, sea water brined fish, house-made kim chi, native greens and weeds.

TSL Brothl Broth

Brothl Chicken Broth served with Beef Brisket, Kale and Mushrooms
(Image by Food Architect because when I finally remembered my camera, Brothl was closed!)

I cannot express how much I love this place!

The fish frames, organic free range chook frames and aged grass-fed cattle bones, along with other organic vegetable matter, are all sourced from some of Melbourne’s leading restaurant kitchens – Rockpool, Attica and the European. The broths are all made using rainwater. I suspect Joost actually does much of the foraging himself*.

On the communal table, jars of house made fermented chill sit waiting for those who need a bit of kick to their broth.

For me, it’s a toss-up whether my favourite dish was the fish broth served with sea bounty mussels, bacon and native greens and weeds or the beef broth served with braised beef brisket, kale and foraged seaweed. Either way – they were enhanced at lunchtime by a glass of house-made hibiscus kombucha.

Best of all, strict AIP followers can eat here with no issue. I only wish my homemade beef bone broth tasted as good…

 

TSL Brothl

(Image by TSL)

Do yourself a favour and check out Brothl when you’re next in Melbourne.

Brothl can be found at 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne 3000. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am – 10pm and it rocks!

 * I don’t actually know this for a fact, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Travelling Domestically on a Restricted Diet

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TSL Travel Planning

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people. (Orson Welles)

I’m currently travelling interstate (I’m typing this from my hotel room).

More precisely, I’m having six lovely days in Melbourne catching up with study-buddies, touching base with old friends and – hopefully – establishing a few new connections. LM is not with me. I’m flying solo.

And, just like with my tendency to over-pack, I prepared w a y too much food to take with me. BUT! – I want to minimise the risk of contamination… (Turns out I was contaminated anyway, but at least I gave it a good hard go, yes?)

Travelling on a restricted diet is not so easy. Not by a rather huge margin. And, because it takes so much bloody work, LM thought I should share a few of the foods (and beverages) I carried with me.

First, if at all possible, book accommodation with a kitchen

Really. It will make life so much easier. A decent fridge, a sink to wash up, and basic cookware allows you the freedom to shop for fresh ingredients upon arrival and to store them easily.

I find having provisions on hand means I’m less likely to give into pressure to ‘fall off the wagon’ and, it’s definitely cheaper.

Then, prepare a few foods to take with you

In my case, since I have recently reintroduced coffee, I needed my dairy-free creamer.

I also figured that breakfast is a particularly difficult ask at a restaurant when eggs, grains and dairy are off the menu, so I prepared for that.

And of course, snacks are always welcome!

TSL Travel Haul

(Most of) My Interstate Travel Haul
L – R: Jaffa Balls, Mackerel in olive oil, Filtered Water (in red flask), Dark Chocolate, Organic Coconut Oil, Seeded crackers, Dairy-Free Creamer (in silver flask), AIP Reintroduction-compliant Breakfast Crunch.
(Image by TSL)

In case you have any interest, here are links to the recipes for some of the items above:

  • My choc-orange ‘Jaffa Balls’ are my current favourite snack ball. I reckon they’re a winner (and they went down a treat with the Melbourne crew)
  • The Dairy-Free Creamer is, I reckon’, my best invention ever. Especially if you want the milkiness of a flat white or a latte, but can’t do dairy or soy (and find straight almond milk too watery)
  • The very talented Alexx Stuart created this particular Breakfast Crunch recipe. It’s a nut & seed number with some cacao and cinnamon thrown in for added flavour. Frankly, it rocks! – Especially when eaten with coconut yoghurt and fresh berries
  • The seeded crackers are a wee number I’m still perfecting. Trust me – you’ll be the first to know when I’m happy with them.
TSL Travel Bag

Chilly Bin (NZ for cooler bag!) and my TSL House Fermented Vegetables
(Image by TSL)

 Next, when you arrive at your destination – head to the nearest organic or whole foods store

Seriously. Do not pass go. Have a shopping list prepared and make it a priority to get ‘compliant’ food into your temporary kitchen. I promise you won’t regret it.

Finally, should accidental contamination happen, try not to let it ruin your trip…

Dining out at restaurants (which I have not done in 9 months) means you will have less control over what goes into the pot or pan with your clean food – even with every precaution you can possibly take. If you do have a flare, try to pick yourself up and get back on the horse. Stressing about it will only make things worse.

And, as soon as you get home, you will be back in charge again.

Holy Alter-Ego, Batman! – The BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer EVER!

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TSL Dairy Free Creamer

(Image by TSL)

“Wait!”
“What?” I lowered my cup hastily, wondering if maybe there was a stray hair, or worse, a newly boiled bug inside my cup.
You got to smell it first. It’s the proper way to cup coffee.”
“Cup coffee?”
“Taste it.”
“What? Are you the coffee police or something?”
(Justina Chen, North of Beautiful)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

By far the BEST thing I have been able to reintroduce into my diet is coffee! I have missed my coffee like you wouldn’t believe. More than red wine, even. Truly.

And, when I say coffee, I mean the real deal. No Starbucks for this girl, thank you very much! We are serious about our coffee down here in this corner of the world. And, Casa TSL is no exception to this regional ‘passionate about our coffee’ rule.

Wanna’ know just how serious we are?

Here’s a pic’ of our particular brand of coffee machine here at Casa TSL…

TSL Image of Bezerra coffee machine

The Bezerra Galatea Domus
We are THIS serious about coffee around here!
(Image from here)

My beloved Bezerra machine has been pretty neglected since February. Nine entire months! She has only seen action when LM fires her up over the weekend for his espresso(s).

…and, I sit on the couch, with my nose in the air, to get my caffeine fix vicariously.

To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions. (Hugh Jackman)

The thing is, despite the fact that I adore my coffee, I can’t drink it black. Just can’t. And, before you say anything, I know this makes me a pseudo-coffee aficionado. I know purists drink their coffee black. Just not me.

So, what’s a flat white drinker to do?

flat white
noun
a type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino.

For a while there, before I started my autoimmune protocol adventure, I was drinking a long black with a healthy dollop of organic cream (raw if I could get it). YUM! And, occasionally, I had the odd bulletproof coffee.

But, any dairy is still off the menu here at my place. And, it may remain that way for a wee while. I’ve got a bad feeling about dairy. So…

…I tried coffee with almond milk. Meh. Too watery. And, there was the curdle factor.

…I tried coffee with coconut milk. Ughh. Too coconutt-y.

And then, lying in bed one night, wondering just how I was going to manage being a coffee-free ‘Chief Barista’ during my parents’ recent visit to Sydney, I had a small epiphany. As you do.

What if I combined the almond milk and the coconut milk to make a dairy-free coffee creamer?

So, I did. And I played around with the formula a little – tweaking it by adding a little maple syrup and vanilla for sweetness and balance. And the results were AMAZING! So amazing that I can honestly say that if I end up being off dairy forever, I can happily drink coffee with my special TSL Coffee Creamer. It’s THAT good!

I can’t express how happy that makes me. It’s quite difficult to limit myself to one cup a day!

And, here’s the recipe. Just for you.

The BEST Homemade Dairy-Free Creamer EVER

  • Servings: depends on how you like your coffee (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • Time: Less than 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

TSL Dairy Free Creamer

Ingredients:

1 x cup Almond Milk (here’s my recipe for awesome almond milk)
1 x cup coconut milk
1 x teaspoon vanilla essence
1 x Tablespoon maple syrup

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients into a large jar. Secure the lid and shake vigorously.

2. Pop in the fridge just like normal milk. It will last about 5 days. If your creamer separates, just give it a shake before pouring.

That’s it. Simples!

E N J O Y !

If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning. (Mae West)

AWESOME Almond Milk

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TSL Almond Milk

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

I love nuts. I’m for nuts. I am nuts. (Penn Jillette, ‘God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales’)

The very first official thing I reintroduced, after adding a little fruit back into my food regime, were seeds. I had some of my Nut-Free Granola Crunch. When this didn’t appear to cause any reaction, seeds were pretty swiftly followed by almonds. Activated ones, no less.  And then, I added activated cashews and macadamias. Then activated pistachios and hazelnuts. I have yet to get to brazils or pecans – activated or otherwise. But, given the results of my early experiments with nuts, I’m not anticipating any issues. [insert smiley face here]

Don’t know about activated nuts?

TSL Activated Nuts

Activated Nuts TSL-Style
(Image by TSL)

All nuts contain pesky things called enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors act by binding to enzymes and decreasing or blocking them. In nature, enzyme inhibitors are of benefit to the humble nut – they prevent the nuts from prematurely sprouting. But, they can also act on our digestive enzymes, stopping their proper digestion and absorption. Especially important to consider when you have been working to fix your gut health!

Nuts and seeds also contain small amounts of phytic acid, which our digestive system can’t break down. Eating large amounts of raw nuts puts a huge strain on our digestive system. Phytic acid also reacts with many essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc, and stops their absorption in your intestines.

Soaking – or activating – your nuts (and seeds) before you eat them neutralises the enzyme inhibitors that are present, and starts the production of many beneficial enzymes. As they soak, the enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms break down and neutralise the phytic acid.

If you’d like to know more, Sally Fallon talks extensively about activating nuts in her book Nourishing Traditions. An invaluable resource.

So, why am I making almond milk?

Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk.

The main reason I’m experimenting with almond milk is that I suspect I may have an issue with dairy (although I’m hoping that I’m mistaken), so I’m not reintroducing that back into my diet just yet. Call me ‘chicken’…

Also, my homemade almond milk has 3 ingredients – almonds, vanilla essence and water. That’s it.

And, it’s ridiculously easy to make.

TSL Soaked Almonds

Soaked almonds waiting to be made into almond milk…
(Image by TSL)

Aside from the cost, commercial almond milks are full of other additives.

Here’s an example:

Sanitarium list the following ingredients in their So Good almond milk: Filtered water, cane sugar, almonds (2.5%), mineral salts (tricalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), natural flavours, emulsifier (lecithin), salt, vegetable gum (carrageenan).

Did you notice it has more cane sugar than actual almonds? And that’s before you add in the lecithin and carrageenan.

“What in god’s name happened to your nuts?”
“They met a jet-powered water hose.”
He grimaced.
“They’re already healing.”
A rare glint of amusement lit Lawrence’s eyes. “You have balls of steel.”
“You have inappropriate humour.”
(Dianna Hardy, ‘Releasing The Wolf‘)

And, if you’d like to learn more about different types of nut milk, The Raw Food Kitchen conveniently has a great post on this very subject. Saves me writing one!

AWESOME Almond Milk

  • Servings: depends on your appetite! (makes about 2 1/2 cups)
  • Time: 30 minutes + overnight soaking
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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TSL Almond Milk

Ingredients:

1 x cup almonds
1 x teaspoon vanilla extract
2 x cups filtered water + water for soaking

You will also need a nut bag or cheesecloth for straining.

Method:

1. Pop your almonds in a small bowl and cover with filtered water. Leave to soak overnight.

2. Pour your soaked almonds into a sieve or colander and rinse thoroughly.

3. Pop your almonds into your blender (the higher powered your blender, the creamier your almond milk will be). Add your vanilla essence and 2 cups of filtered water. Blend on high for at least 90 seconds.

4. Strain your almond milk through your nut bag or cheesecloth. Take your time. You’ll get a good arm work out and the more patient you are, the creamier the milk will be. Set aside almond meal for adding to smoothies, thickening sauces or even drying into meal if you’re feeling adventurous, otherwise discard. 

5. Your almond milk is now ready to serve. It will last about 5 days in the fridge.

Serving suggestions: – can be substituted for any recipe you would use with dairy milk.

E N J O Y !

In my next post, I’ll tell you about the REAL reason I was so keen to experiment with almond milk…

Zoe’s Choc-Orange Birthday Balls (a.k.a. ‘Jaffa Balls’)

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TSL Jaffa Bliss Balls

(Image by TSL)

It’s my buddy, Zoe’s birthday today. It also happens to be my Mum’s birthday, too. But, because I’m lucky enough to have Mum here with me in Sydney to celebrate, I won’t be seeing Zoe on her big day.

So, these balls are dedicated to you, my crazy friend. I hope you have an AWESOME day.

Happy Birthday!

For the uninitiated (those of you not from Australia or New Zealand!), ‘Jaffa’ is a colloquial term that refers to small ball of goodness which consists of a soft chocolate centre with a hard covering of orange flavoured, red coloured confectionery. The name comes from the Jaffa orange. And, through association with this wee ball of goodness, Jaffa has now come to describe a chocolate-orange flavour.

Of course, jaffas are definitely off my menu.  I can’t imagine there’s much about them that are AIP-friendly with all the processed gunk (technical term!) that makes them taste so very good. But these wee ‘jaffa balls’ are a fantastic alternative.

TSL Jaffas

The taste of childhood
We used to roll jaffas down the aisles at the movies
(Image from here)

And, in another bit of somewhat unrelated trivia, I originate from Auckland. In New Zealand, Aucklanders are often referred to as JAFAs. Not because we are full of chocolate and taste weirdly like an orange. Rather, because it is both a slang term and an acronym for Just Another F*&^ing Aucklander

Now you know!

So, back to Zoe’s birthday balls.

These balls are a little more-ish. Actually, they are more than a little more-ish. And, while they are free of refined sugar and processed gunk, they do have a hefty amount of dried fruit added – so, best to eat in moderation. If you can hold yourself back, that is.

Zoe's Choc-Orange Birthday Balls

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: 45 minutes + activating and chilling
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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T^SL Choc Orange Bliss Balls

Ingredients:

1 x cup almonds, preferably activated (sprouted)
1/2 x cup cashews, preferably activated (sprouted)
4 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 x cup sultanas
Zest and juice of one organic orange
1/4 x cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup desiccated coconut + more for rolling

Method

1. Pop your almonds and cashews into your food processor. Blitz on high until they resemble fine bread crumbs.

2. Add your dates, sultanas, zest and juice of the orange, cacao powder and desiccated coconut to the nut mixture. Pulse until thoroughly mixed into a thick dough. Give it a pinch test between your fingers. If it’s a little dry, add a drop or two of water.

3. Pour about a 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut into a bowl. Using a tablespoon as your measure, roll balls of the mixture between your hands, and then roll in coconut to cover.

4. Pop into the fridge for at least an hour to chill before devouring.

E N J O Y !

I’m at the reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure. That means I can start reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. It’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!

Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries… Summer’s Coming!

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TSL Choc Dipped Strawberries

(Image by TSL)

There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate. (Linda Grayson)

It’s a good great week here at Casa TSL.

I’m having visitors over from New Zealand. As I write this, Sydney has clear blue skies. There’s a fresh feeling in the air.  A sense that summer is on its way. There’s not much that beats Sydney in the summer-time.

…AND, my autoimmune protocol food reintroductions are going well (so far, anyway!). I’m back on low levels of fruit. Berries are particularly good – less sugar than most. Nuts and seeds appear to be fine. I’m adding back a few spices. And, dark chocolate is officially back on the menu!

The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate. (Sandra Boynton)

Last Friday night, I had dinner at a girlfriend’s place. Given my super-stringent dietary restrictions, I’m always so touched when a friend goes out of their way to accommodate me. And, of course, I’m off alcohol at the moment.

So, what to bring…?

The strawberry season has well and truly started down here. And, it seems like it will be a good one. You just never know with strawberries! The few I’ve sampled so far have been deep ruby-red in colour, and tasted juicy and sweet. YUM!

So, to celebrate the successful reintroduction of dark chocolate into my life, I thought I’d whip up some chocolate dipped strawberries as a wee ‘hostie gift’.

To be honest, this can hardly be called a recipe – it calls for only 2 ingredients. But, when strawberries are at their best, this is a seriously winning combination. And, who doesn’t love dark chocolate and strawberries?

You can even almost talk yourself into thinking its healthy, too

(in moderation, at least)

Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

  • Servings: depends on your appetite!
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: it's not even a recipe! - its just assembly
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TSL Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients:

1 x punnet strawberries (about 300g), carefully washed and dried
150g best quality dark chocolate

Method:

1. Line a tray with baking paper.

2. Break up your chocolate into pieces and pop into a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Ensure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.

3. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat and place onto baking paper.

4. Refrigerate your chocolate-dipped strawberries until set.

5. Try not to eat them all at once!

E N J O Y !

Top Tip: Any left over melted chocolate can be poured into silicon mini muffin moulds. I pop a little Himalayan sea salt on top and sneak one at a weak moment. Delish!

I’m at the reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure. That means I can start reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. It’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!