Mel’s Famous Goji Berry Bliss Balls

The universe has been delightful again and has smashed me into contact with the absolutely gorgeous Mel from Raw Energy and Wellness. As Mel will tell you below, she is a Remedial Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer and has just moved to the my glorious end of Australia (the West). She also just happens to be a fellow IIN colleague and I am telling you now, she is going to do big things with her Health Coach qualification! I’ll hand the microphone over to Mel now to introduce herself and then share her protein-packed bliss balls… 

melAfter leaving School 15 years ago my first stop was cooking school. I wasn’t really sure what in the world I wanted to do but I knew I loved to cook for people so decided my new aspiration was to become a chef. After being told, quite politely, by my teacher at that time that I talked to much to be stuck in a kitchen everyday, I went on a career hunting adventure over many years. I tried soooo many things…Horticulture, waitressing, landscaping, accounting, started a business degree, interior design, sports management and finally found my calling when I qualified as a Personal Trainer and opened my first boutique gym 6 years ago.

Although I did love what i was doing I always had a deeper desire to further help people, so completed a number of extra nutrition and coaching certificates and enrolled myself to become a Remedial Therapist. I thought this would help me on the road to “fixing” people.

However, as before, I still felt that burning desire that there was something else out there for me to learn in order to motivate and inspire people to become the best version on themselves they could possibly be. This is when I stumbled across the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, this is what I claim to be my “light bulb moment”. It made so much sense to tie in all of my knowledge and experience into this one qualification: a HEALTH COACH.

Since enrolling 3 months ago I haven’t been able to contain my excitement and so many doors have started swinging open. I am so grateful for the new path my life is taking and would you believe that after 15 whole years my passion for cooking has returned. Although this time around, after everything I’ve learnt over the years, the ingredients I am experimenting and creating with are far more pure and nourishing. I absolutely love shopping and hunting for yummy, quality ingredients. Then when I get home, have so much fun getting lost in the middle of a kitchen full of nuts, seeds and superfoods. And the best part, I get to talk just as much as I like!

To celebrate the rediscovery of my passion I would love to share my famous Gogi Berry Bliss Ball recipe with you. Goji Berries contain all essential amino acids and also have the highest concentration of protein of any fruit. They are loaded with vitamin C, contain more carotenoids than any other food, have twenty-one trace minerals, and are high in fiber. Boasting 15 times the amount of iron found in spinach, as well as calcium, zinc, selenium and many other important trace minerals, there is no doubt that the humble yogi berry is a nutritional powerhouse.

Enjoy beautiful people!

Mel’s Famous Goji Berry Bliss Balls

Vegan – Raw

Makes 16 balls

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Ingredients

  • 15 dates 
  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 
  • 1/4 cup pepitas 
  • 1/4 cup goji berries 
  • 1 cup almonds 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts 
  • 1 tbs cinnamon 
  • 3/4 cup oats 
  • 1/2 cup coconut 
  • 1/2 cup almond milk 
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein 

Method

  1. Add all ingredients except milk to a food processor mix until you are left with a fine texture
  2. Transfer to a large bowl, add milk and stir 
  3. Roll into small balls using extra coconut for rolling in

How good do they look? If you want more recipes like that follow Mel here;

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What is your favorite healthy snack? Would love to hear your go-to food in the comments!

Healing Winter Soup

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Last week I experienced for the first time what it was like to be the parent of a poorly little poppet. Little Lucy got a nasty chesty cold with one of those horrendous barking coughs. As a result my body has been fighting it like crazy and that goes hand in hand with some very sleepless nights. It is true though that babies are born with universal intelligence. She knew exactly what to do. Lie down. Stop. Screw up the to-do list (which must have been stressful for her – she had to reschedule ‘chew remote’ and ‘chase dogs’). Cry those emotions out. Feel sorry for herself. Be gentle. Sleep.

Taking my cue from her I listened to what it was my body wanted. It wanted warm, grounding, healing soup. So I chose beautiful seasonal organic produce, chopped it all up and made a soup that can only be described as Bloody Bonza, Mate. (apologies to the non-Australian contingent of this readership). I then supercharged it with a whole load of ancient superfood spices and Bob’s ya uncle.

So I stopped with my daughter and we cuddled and I watched Death at a Funeral for the 34,824th time. It was lovely. 

And the more we slurped down the better we both felt. Our healing could be due to all the Vitamin C in the pumpkin and sweet potato though it is much more likely because of the soups magical powers. 

So if you are feeling sick or you just like delicious soup – this is for you! Lucy loved it…

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Healing Winter Soup

Vegan – Gluten Free – Paleo

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Ingredients

  • 1kg Pumpkin (Yam), cubed into 4cm cubes
  • 1/2 large Sweet Potato (Kumara), cubed into 2cm cubes
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups Stock or Water
  • 2 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 3cms knob of Ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • Bunch of Coriander (Cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds (Cilantro)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional

  • 1 can of Coconut Cream
  • Dulce Flakes

Method

  1. Heat Coconut Oil in large pot
  2. Add Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Onion, Ginger, Garlic and the stem and roots of the coriander bunch. Stir until the onion is soft.
  3. Add Leek, Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander Seeds, Coriander Leaves (save some for presentation) and Nutmeg and stir until the spice has thoroughly coated the contents of the pot.
  4. Add Stock or Water and bring to the boil
  5. Then simmer until soft (approximately 20 minutes)
  6. Allow to cool slightly before blending (either in blender or with stick blender)
  7. Serve hot. If using coconut cream skim the cream off top with teaspoon and swirl on your soup for extra prettiness. I also dusted mine with Dulce Flakes.

Bored of the soup?

If you are halfway through your pot and are getting a bit tired of the same taste there are a few options.

Thai Pumpkin Soup – Add coconut cream, a pinch of cayenne, lime juice and your salty seasoning of choice (coconut aminos, tamari or fish/soy sauce). Add them all to taste and BAM – you have yourself a zesty pumpkin soup.

Curry Base – I sauteed some broccoli and onions in some spices (garlic, ginger etc) and then added a few ladles of soup. Served it on a bed of quinoa with a health handful of raw cashews for a super simple lunchtime curry!

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What about you? What is YOUR favorite healing food when you are feeling under the weather?

Choc Macanana Smoothie


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Liquid Cleanse. Two words that on their own are completely acceptable, even pleasant, but put those hands together and you have yourself a world of hurt. And it is only day one! Well actually I am being a bit dramatic. In general I find cleanses liberating, detoxifying, lightening and (funnily enough) cleansing! But of course they can be difficult and need a fair chunk of determination to get through. It is more of a psychological challenge than physical; because you know you can’t eat anything the mind plays tricks on you and tells you that you’re hungrier than you are. (Which is exactly the reason diets don’t work).Either way… by 3:30pm of Day #1 I felt faint, nauseous and panicky. I really felt I needed something hearty to keep my energy levels up enough to play with my 5 month old and pack our entire life into boxes. Enter the Choc Macanana Smoothie.

Also – for fun – whisper Choc Macanana in a deep tribal voice; doesn’t that sound like some mystical island legend? Can’t you imagine being around a campfire on the beach and Choc Macanana appearing with a fern headdress? Look, in my solids deprived brain I found that hilarious and have now been giggling for about 5 minutes. C’mon Em, pull yourself together!!! Anyway…

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A Little Word About Maca…

I will go into a lengthier post about Maca Powder later on but I just wanted to say that this is the one Superfood that I have felt instant and dramatic effects from. Maca comes in powder form and is made from a turnip-esque root vegetable of South America. The list of health benefits of Maca is too huge to list but the most common praise I had heard was it’s ability to balance hormones, give your energy levels a boost (your libido as well!) as well as giving you the most amazing glowing skin.

I had held off until a few weeks ago as I had heard from some that it can negatively affect anxiety levels – and considering mine were just starting to normalise I didn’t want to risk another surge. But in the end the pros outweighed the cons and I gave it a go. Even on the first day I took it I felt noticeably better which I have never experienced with a product before. Now after two weeks of 1 teaspoon a day I feel like a different person. My husband has commented on how much more positive I am, more patient. I have had a lot of comments on my skin. And – surprisingly – my anxiety management has improved again. I have since learned that Maca is renowned for it’s depression-busting skills too.

The point of this spiel is to recommend that you invest in some Maca if you have any of the ailments I mentioned. I use this product from Loving Earth and they deliver all over Australia. But hopefully you can find it in most good healthfood stores.

Prep time – 5 minutes; Serves 1

Ingredients

1 x banana

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used my homemade Cashew Milk using this recipe)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon maca powder

1 teaspoon raw cacao powder

Pinch of cinnamon

2 x dates

Method

Throw all ingredients in the blender.

Blend until smooth.

If you want to get fancy sprinkle on some cacao nibs.

What is your can’t-live-without ingredient and why?

Would love to hear in the comments…

Highlights from my Sanctuary

Last week I decided I needed some R&R… and sometimes the one thing you need to truly relax is to be near your family. So I (largely) switched off from the social media world, got on me wellies and headed to my parents beautiful hobby farm for a mini-holiday. Here are some highlights!

This is my parents cottage. It is in a very small town in South West Australia called Boyup Brook. It is made of granite and is encased in vines which change from green to red throughout the year. Staring out the windows is always magic.

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The perfect reading chair!

The perfect reading chair!

Every morning started like this…

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The wonder in Lucy’s eyes when I would part the curtain and reveal this leafy world with crazy guinea fowl running around, was amazing.

Then we would go and get breakfast…

From my Instagram profile - @oliveonblonde

From my Instagram profile – @oliveonblonde

Mum and Dad truly love their animals and have unintentionally created their own farm sanctuary. Every sheep and goat that they have on their farm was rescued by them; from the countless lambs that were found alone and shivering to death in a paddock to the ‘dud’ goat that they bought after seeing it chained, unwanted and about 2 days away from a stove top. They now have a hilarious and mismatched collection of 6 goats, 13 alpacas and about 30 sheep – each has a name and most come when they are called. Here is a photo from 3 years ago… the start of their mad family. All but one of these sheepy’s is still around and Dufus is the leader of the flock.

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What happened when I took Lucy to introduce her to the them all is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. I walked into the paddock and sat on top of the hill looking down on all the goats and sheep. They turned and looked at me and then from every direction started walking towards us – such a funny sight to see over 30 animals all making an executive decision to come say hello. Then when they arrived they almost lined up and took turns coming up and very gently sniffing on Lucy’s face and mouthing her nose. She could not stop giggling and they had no problems at all with her reaching out and running her hands over their wool. It was amazing. Later when I told mum about it she said that that is what they do when they are introducing a new lamb into their flock. Heart officially melted.

What a funny face

What a funny face

These are not pictures of that exact experience, but they reacted much the same. Especially my darling Charlie who is everyone’s favourite sheep. My dad cannot count the number of times that he has been gardening or fixing a fence and felt something fuzzy on his face to find Charlie giving him smooches. He will happily sit with you for hours asking for a face tickle.

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This is Sherman.

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He is the ‘dud’ I mentioned before. He has mixed up man bits and is technically known as a Cryptorchid. Basically – commercially speaking – he is useless. He is lucky he met mum and dad who scooped him up for a life of wandering paddocks.  He is also without a doubt the strangest animal I have ever met. He is slightly vacant but is also really funny. He has bulbous eyes that aren’t a regular characteristic of his breed. His horns grow like a mohawk down the centre of his head. And he stinks. He stinks to high heaven. Lucy and I were sitting alone in a paddock and all of a sudden this ungodly stench punched me in the nose. I was looking around to try and figure out what was causing this smell which is when I spied Sherman plodding across the paddock to say hello. Strange, lovely, stinky little man.

And here are some of the other cheeky buggers…

Lady Fallon

Lady Fallon

Springer... a spoilt but delightful lad!

Springer… a spoilt but delightful lad!

Fallon welcoming Lucy Goosey

Fallon welcoming Lucy Goosey

A very self-satisfied Stompy

A very self-satisfied Stompy

Gorgeous Elsabee

Gorgeous Elsabee

Photo-bombing goat…

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Allen being cheeky!

Allen being cheeky!

And of course no trip would be complete without the disobedient little arsehole…

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My parents are amazing. My mum is a feeder. If anything is wrong in life the solution starts with a meal… the bigger, the better. So when I asked for a very light, very small plant-based meal I couldn’t help but laugh when she produced this…

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You may not be able to tell from the photo … that veggies stacked weighed about 4 kilos! It was absolutely delicious even though I could barely finish a quarter of it.

I also found this little book in my Dad’s bookshelves.

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Made my heart burst a bit when I remember how nervous he was before giving the speech at my wedding. What cute little muffins they are.

I came back feeling loved, rested and content. Must be true that home is where the heart is.

Where is your special place?

Raw Cross Buns

Dairy Free – Gluten Free – Grain Free – Refined Sugar Free – Raw – Vegan – Paleo

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My husband looks forward to Easter for one reason and one reason only; Hot Cross Buns! He lives for them. So considering we are both gluten intolerant now the prognosis of his HCB addiction hit him hard. I had to really talk him down from the bakery ledge the other day as he was going to throw bloatedness, itchiness and general discomfort to the wind for the sake of some gluten goodness. They say grief goes through 12 stages right? Poor soul. So I have been keeping my eye out for a gluten free recipe to try and ease his pain. And as soon as I saw this recipe on fab raw food blog Rawified I knew I had to give it a crack of my own version… and i’m pretty stoked with the result.

These little bun bites are delicious! They taste identical to hot cross buns which is slightly confusing as they are an entirely different texture (obviously they are not going to have that glorious fluffiness that only refined white bread has!). While I would have easily downed 3 hot cross buns in my past life these are so rich and nutrient dense that you only need one before you are totally satisfied. Plus they are full of Omega’s, protein, fiber and deliciousness. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups raw almonds 
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup cashew pulp (made from cashew milk… see recipe here) OR 1 cup cashews if you haven’t made milk **see note
  • 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (agave, raw honey, maple syrup etc)
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seed (aka linseed)
  • 3 large dates
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

** If you have prior notice to making these then I would urge you to try the milk! You are going to use the same amount of cashews in the recipe anyway and if you just soak them 6 hours before (preferably the night before) you can get a good litre of non-dairy milk as a bonus!

Icing

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice – i used maple YUM (agave, raw honey, maple syrup etc)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (if you don’t have that table salt is fine)

Method

Dough

  1. Using a food processor grind up your almonds to a fine powder (and if you are using whole cashews instead of cashew pulp add these too)
  2. Add all other ingredients except the raisins. Pulse your food processor until the ingredients are well mixed.
  3. Add the raisins and pulse so that they are mixed but not purified.
  4. Shape your dough into balls slightly smaller than golf balls. Flatten them with the back of a spoon. Get a butter knife and carve in a cross shape. As you press the knife in wiggle it side to side so the groove of the cross is opened.
  5. Set aside while you make the icing.

Icing

  1. Using a food processor grind up your cashews to a fine, even powder. This is your icing so you do not want it to be lumpy and bumpy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and combine until they are a smooth caramel coloured paste.
  3. If you have a piping bag use this to pipe your crosses. Otherwise I just used two butter knifes. I got a bit of icing onto the blade of one knife and then just scraped it into the cross grooves.
  4. Serve with a big smile.

Have a happy healthy Easter!!!

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How To Make Almond Milk – Plus 3 Bonus Recipes!

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“Nut milk”. Is that not the most unfortunately titled of all food items? Actually… it might just be pipped by it’s cousin “Nut Cheese”. Putting immaturity aside for a second though this is seriously awesome stuff and has become my obsession since my clean living revolution (read about that here). My milk of choice would have to be almond. Nut Milk is super easy to make and because almonds are naturally so nutritionally dense you don’t need to fortify them with anything… making homemade just as good than store bought. Actually better because you miss out on all the waste associated with packaged milks. If you need more convincing, here are some of the nutritional benefits of Almond Milk;

Low in Calories – Considering nuts are so calorific and full of all those good fats, I was shocked to discover that it is low in calories – around 60 per 250mls (compared to 426 for the equivalent serve of cows milk!)

Easy to digest – Free of lactose, casein, gluten and soy making it the best choice for your non-dairy dairy!

High in protein 

Full of nutrients – Nut milks have no cholesterol and higher levels of minerals and vitamins than other non-dairy equivalents like rice and soy (a avoid soy anyway… for these reasons). This milk is full of vitamin E, manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fiber and phosphorous. The high levels of vitamin E and flavonoids make it a cancer fighting tonic!

Tastes Delish!!! – Nut milk is a lot milder than soy and is delicate and sweet. It is brilliant in smoothies, baking and all sorts of other recipes (like Chia Pudding – yum!)

Almond milk doesn’t contain much calcium though, so it should not be considered a replacement for your calcium intake. 

Equipment

To make nut milk you need a nut milk bag or material equivalent. I use these Living Synergy nut milk bags which are produced by local raw foodie queen Jen Keenan (of Living Synergy Dunsborough retreats)! You can buy them directly from the link I provided or see the large list of Australia Wide stockists here. They are very reasonably priced at around $17. If you are outside of Australia, Amazon also has an impressive list available.

This being said if you can also make your own nut milk bags out of just about anything. Sew a bag shape out of cheesecloth or muslin or upcycle an old (washed) stocking (panty-hose). I have used the panty-hose trick before when I was making this Coconut and Cucumber Facial Cleanser.

Almond Milk

Ingredients

  • Raw Almonds (organic if possible)
  • Water (filtered if possible)

For every 1 Cup of almonds I use 3 Cups of water.

Optional Extras

  • Sweeteners – raw honey, agave, stevia, maple syrup, dates
  • Raw Cacao – chocky milk!!!
  • Spices – cinnamon,cloves, cardamom, cayenne?

MAKING ALMOND MILK

Method

  1. Soak your almonds in filtered water in the fridge for between 6 – 48 hours. The longer the better but if you don’t have time 6 hours is fine. 
  2. Strain the almonds. (I strain into a colander over a bowl and then use the ‘wasted’ water in the garden).
  3. Place in blender with new water – for every 1 Cup of almonds you make you should add 3 Cups of water. (If you want to make a nice thick almond cream use 1 Cup almonds:1-2 Cup of water)
  4. Add any additional items to the blender (sweeteners, spice etc)
  5. Blend on high until the milk is foamy
  6. Pour blender contents into your nut milk bag or cheese cloth. There are a few ways you can do this – I place the nut milk bag over the top of the blender and pour into a bowl. You could also place the bag or cloth into a jag and fasten with an elastic bag before pouring.
  7. Squeeze all the pulp in the bag to extract all the milk.
  8. Store in a glass container with an airtight lid (a sterilized old jar will work just fine!)

Your milk will last between 4 – 5 days in an airtight container.

Now you will notice that you are left with the pulp of the almonds. Now hold your horses… DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. This byproduct is a versatile base that you can make a whole range of recipes from! Here are three that I have tried, but really the possibilities are as limitless as your creativity!

Bonus Recipes

Almond Pulp Crackers

I made these awesome crackers from a recipe from awesome vegan blog Figgy and Sprout. Served with homemade Baba Ganoush they went down a treat.

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See the recipe here.

Raw Almond Pulp Macaroons

Living Synergy (where I got my nut milk bag) provided this amazing recipe for Raw Almond Macaroons. I changed them slightly by leaving out the vanilla bean and using half dessicated coconut and half shredded (both unsweetened) and they are delicious! She the recipe here.

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Crunchy Cacao Balls

I then adapted that recipe into my own little nutritious treat! These little balls are delicious.

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  1. Place 1+1/2 Cups of unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 Cup nut pulp, 1/2 Cup dates, 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil and 1 Tablespoon of Raw Cacao into a bowl.
  2. Get messy and combine with your hands… squish and mix until you can form doughy balls. (or you can use a blender if you are feeling lazy)
  3. Roll mix into balls and then roll in cacao nibs.

What a resourceful way to get your milk!

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