Sunday, 29 November 2015

A healthy creamy dressing...

We live in the tropics so you can understand why a lot of salads are prepared in my kitchen each week.
There's so many fantastic salad ingredients year round that I'm not often stumped on creating a recipe, but I do like to investigate new dressings because that's where I need help with flavour combining.

Recently I bought the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook and there is a Tahini Dressing recipe inside that I took inspiration from. After tweaking to suit our taste buds I was almost drinking the stuff through a straw! 

Creamy, tangy, spicy and morish - I am rather liberal with it on my lunch...

Want to try it?

You will need:

1/2 cup hulled tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons (20ml) of Braggs Liquid Aminos
pinch of cayenne pepper

 Mix all of these together in your blender (I use my Nutri Bullet) and enjoy!

Apart from the incredible taste, the ingredients pack a health punch.

Tahini is made from crushed sesame seeds and these are some of its key health benefits:

* rich in minerals such as lecithin, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorous.
* aids in liver detoxification
* one of nature's best sources of calcium
* high in vitamin E and many of the B vitamins
* high alkaline (easy digestion)
* higher protein than most nuts...

Apple Cider Vinegar will:

* lower blood sugar levels
* help with weight loss
* improve the symptoms of diabetes...

Braggs Liquid Aminos tastes similar to soy sauce but it:

* is low in salt
* contains 16 amino acids
* is gluten free
* is linked to lower rates of certain cancers and osteoporosis
* may lessen hot flushes during menopause

Good stuff, right?
But the best thing about this dressing is that it tastes as good as its health benefits, and that is important because if food tastes unpalatable my husband will not give it a second audition. 

I've just received this new copy of a favourite old homemaking book in the mail so I may indulge with salad and tahini dressing lunches all next week whilst enjoying daily reading breaks...

Hope you have a tasty week too!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Chilli Jam, and some thoughts...

I watch a lot of health documentaries, study the latest nutritional information, and carefully dig through natural health/healing claims for substance because many years ago I read this in Ezekiel 47:12...

"Along the bank of the river...will grow all kinds of trees used for food...their fruit will be for food and their leaves for medicine." (also read Revelation 22:2)  

...and as one who believes God speaks to us both spiritually and practically through His Word I took this very seriously with regards to how I could look after the physical body and improve the health of my family.

There are numerous Scriptures that tell us of dietary advantages using certain foods. Here are a few examples...

"Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food." (Genesis 1:29)

"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants I gave you everything." (Genesis 9:3)
"Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil that he may recover" (Isaiah 38:21)

"You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man's heart" (Psalm 104:14-15)

"Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples..." (Song of Solomon 2:5)

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (1 Timothy 5:23)

"...take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them." (Ezekiel 4:9)

And don't forget the story of Daniel and his robust health on a diet of vegetables and water. (Daniel 1:8-16) "And at the end of ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies."

I don't follow any one of the popular 21st Century diets such as Paleo, Raw Vegan, Low-Carb, I Quit Sugar, Grain Brain etc, but I do believe the abundance of refined and genetically modified foods produced for human consumption in the western world scarcely resembles those described in God's Word as being good for us, so I am slowly and methodically re-educating myself in what constitutes a natural healthy diet "for me and mine".

Some of the important keys -

* choosing ingredients in their most natural state
* foods as free from pesticides as possible
* locally grown in-season
*eating with restraint and not gluttony
* only buying what we need and using it all 
 * writing a weekly menu plan to avoid over spending and wastage

As the months pass I shall update you on how this is coming along in our home. I'm a realist so for sure it won't all flow as smoothly as it could, but the important thing is to keep learning, keep making better choices and let those good changes replace my bad habits.
It also helps to seek the Lord each day, and ask for His guidance. After all this body is His temple and He knows it way better than me.  
(1 Corinthians 6:19)

This Chilli Jam is my husband's favourite savoury topping on macadamia crumbed chicken, or spread across toast with cheese and avocado.
I'm sure it's the subtle hints of cardamom, star anise and caraway which make it so delicious because  spices and herbs are wonderful for bringing added flavour to most recipes.

I first tasted it with eggs, bacon and sweet potato fritters at the Paleo Cafe here in Townsville, so I bought their cookbook to make it at home.
The only tweak made in my version was to omit the water, add a teaspoon of caraway seeds, and cook all day in the slow cooker to intensify the flavours.


2 red capsicums, seeded and finely chopped...

One red onion finely diced...

As much dried (or fresh) chilli as you like...

2 star anise
the seeds from 3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon caraway seeds...

150ml  (5 oz) organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raw untreated honey 


Place everything in a pot and bring to the boil.
Then simmer slowly for a couple of hours to intensify the flavours and thicken the jam.

Remove from heat and cool before storing in an airtight container in your fridge.



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Grain-free apple pie & coconut cream...

I was really missing pie last weekend. 
So I went hunting for a good grain free base that was nutritious and tasty!

I found some good ideas at Elana's Pantry and just tweaked things a little to suit what I had on hand.  


Preheat the oven to 180C (375F)

1 1/2 cups nuts (such as pecan, walnut, almonds or macadamias) blitzed to a breadcrumb texture in your food processor.
Add a tablespoon of coconut flour (or almond meal), 1 egg, a teaspoon mixed spice, and a pinch of good quality sea salt - pulse in your processor for about 20 seconds.
Spread across the base of a greased pie plate.


Peel, core and finely slice 4 Granny Smith apples.
Grate 2 whole apples down to the core.
Mix the apples in a bowl with a tablespoon of gluten free cornflour, 1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Spread the apple mix over the top of the nut base.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pie, add small dobs of butter across the top of the apple mix (about 2 tablespoons worth of butter), and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve with Vanilla Coconut Cream...

Chill a can of coconut cream in the fridge for at least four hours.
Place the contents of the can in a bowl with a teaspoon of pure vanilla essence, or the seeds from one vanilla pod (extra delicious!), and beat for a minute till they are combined and you have a lovely thick cream texture.

It's yummy served warm and really does taste like apple pie.
We ate the cold remains like pieces of pizza the next day and the day after that...still delicious.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what changes you may have made, ok? 
I'm always looking for good 'tweaks' that give recipes alternate personalities!


Friday, 6 November 2015

TWO YEARS LATER and a recipe...

It's been two years since I wrote and shared anything on my old healthy-living-cooking blog.
Many times over this Year of Gentle Domesticity I've wanted to revisit, re-read, and take inspiration from the 50+ blog posts and walk back through those three and half years to remind myself of all the good I'd learned along the way, and also to update on what I've learned and applied in the past two years. 

Recently I deleted that old blog, but not before transferring all those blog posts over here, to my new healthy-living-kitchen-lovin-cooking blog.

 So let me say WELCOME because it's a privilege to have you visit "Cooked Simply, With Love"!

My plan is to post here once or twice a week (all food and health related) in between my main gig at Elefantz - which if you don't know is my design website & blog, 'cause when I'm not cooking and homemaking I'm a stitchery (embroidery) designer. 

Health background...

My hubby and I both have the auto-immune disease Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and find we are increasingly unable to tolerate wheat so I'm gradually re-inventing some old recipes my family love into versions that are wheat-free and more nutrient dense.

I've been a chronic migraine recipient since I was in at least 6th grade but with regular tracking over many years have narrowed down my food triggers (which I can manage) as well as weather and light triggers (which have a life of their own). My food and health choices play a massive part in helping me steer clear of many migraines that would otherwise swamp my life.
I can always tell when I've slipped off the health wagon because migraines knock on my head with back-to-back regularity - and that's what happened recently so it was a good nudge to begin blogging about health again and living it day by day.

I'm overweight by 18kgs (40 pounds) and on a gal who's just 154cm (5'1") that ain't nice.
And I'm not just talking about aesthetics. I'm talking about inside my skin!
My vital organs are crowded within visceral fat that can do serious damage to my health tomorrow, next month or next year. 
I've declared war on that fat for my health's sake and for my family's sake.
I don't want my family suffering with grief due to my premature death from heart attack, stroke or other medical issues which could have been avoided if I'd had the self control to watch what I ate, and more importantly for me, how MUCH I ate.

 Exercise is another area that needs my attention. We live in the tropics of North Queensland, Australia, and it's HOT. It's hot and HUMID. Exercising outside is unpleasant for 8 months of the year unless you go walking late at night or well before the sun comes up and whilst that used to fit into my husband's schedule last year it doesn't now, and I sure ain't walking alone in the dark. 
A gym is out of the question due to finances, but I did find an old video on Ebay last week of an exercise program I did daily back in 2001-2 which gave me great results so I've dusted off the VHS player ready to begin when the postman delivers it.
 Fortunately we have air conditioning and I work from home, so all I need do is schedule an exercise break each morning after hubby leaves for work. It's important that I make this a ritual five mornings a week so I'm not distracted by work - a downside of working from home is that there is always something to do right before your eyes and distractions are everywhere.

Dietary preferences...

Healthy food. 

As close to nature as God made it.
(yep, I'm a Christian who LOVES the Lord and His life giving truths)

I dabble with recipes that are found in the paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw foodie, sugar-free, nourishing traditions & trim healthy mama lifestyles - working with the aspects which are best for our (mine and hubby's) individual requirements because each of us are so unique.

 I think you're getting my big picture by now?
Let me kick start Cooked Simple, With Love with a recipe that's just been posted on my Elefantz blog.
This is a wheat-free slice which will keep well in the fridge for a week.
I made it on Monday and have only had two small pieces since then, but it's really nice. I'm just exercising self control and reminding myself it's an occasional treat, not an everyday staple.
In fact, I'm going to freeze the rest. 

We have a NutriBullet and apart from making delicious smoothies and nutri-blasts, it also mills grain or nuts and seeds to flour. 
For this recipe you'll need oat flour (which you can purchase at the health food store) but if you have the right kitchen appliance why not make it yourself? 
 I mill a few cups of non-contaminated gluten-free oats at a time and after using what I need for a recipe the rest is stored in the freezer for my next baking day...

 MATRIMONY SLICE (wheat-free)

3/4 cup milled rolled oats, or purchased oat flour
3/4 cup almond meal (almond flour)
1/4 cup rolled oats
grated zest of one lemon
1 cup dessicated coconut
75g melted butter
75g coconut oil
1/2 cup rapadura sugar
1/4 cup raw honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 heaped teaspoon aluminium-free/gluten-free baking powder
1/2 cup jam (100% fruit, no added sugar)
almond flakes

 Preheat oven to 180C (375F)
Grease and line a slice tray.

In a large bowl mix together the oat flour, almond meal, rolled oats, lemon zest, coconut, sugar, spice and baking powder.
In a large jug gently stir the melted butter, coconut oil, honey and egg until blended.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.
Press a little over half of the mix into the base of your slice tray.
Spread the jam across the top (if you warm the jam a little in your microwave it spreads very easily).
Crumble the rest of your slice mix over the jam.
Scatter the almond flakes across the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.
The top should be risen and golden brown. 

When cool, cut into 16 slices and store in your fridge.