Tag Archives: grain-free

Haloumi: The Official Food of Australia’s Crappy Athletes

Haloumi 1Photography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

Admittedly that post title is not technically %100 true. Haloumi is not the official food of anything other than the following salad recipe, and Australia’s athletes are not %100 crappy. In fact, only Australians, particularly the Olympic commentators seem to think their athletes are crappy.

I love living in Australia mainly because the quality of life here is so great. High work wages, free health care, good weather, lots of space, the list goes on. And because Australia has all of these high standards for quality of living, I find that frequently on occassion Australians whine get mildly upset when they don’t get something they feel entitled too. And no where has this attitude been more apparent then the consistently negative and critical coverage of their own athletes in the Olympics.

A typical interview tends to go something like this (fictional discussion based on my own perception of commentators interviewing athletes):

Commentator: “How does it feel to get fourth when you were so close to getting on the podium?”

Athlete: “I’m so proud. It feels great to get to be at olympics and I gave it my all.”

Commentator: “Yes, but how disappointing is it not to get gold?”

Athelete: “I’m just so excited at what I accomplished and I’m looking forward to the next olympics in 4 years.”

Commentator: “Ok, but how does it feel to totally suck for not winning the gold, which is the only thing that matters,” and so on a so forth.

I’ve also never witnessed Olympic commentators who are so eager to see fellow competitors fall, crash, or slip so their athletes can gain a spot on the podium. I mean, is that really how you want to win? Hoping your opponent takes a fall trying something daring and worthy of gold while you play it safe? I don’t think so, and I don’t think Australia’s Olympic athletes do either, but hey, I can only speak for myself…

So this post is in dedication to Australia’s Olympic Athletes who I think are doing a pretty swell job in the most prestigious athletic competition in the world. Chumpy might have gotten wiped out in border cross, but man is he good looking. And David Morris didn’t win the gold, but he dressed in bright yellow for his follow-up interview which is just as good.

haloumi 2

Australia loves haloumi, they support haloumi, they believe in haloumi. They should probably start treating their athletes more like haloumi short of eating them, and make this awesome Haloumi, Rockmelon (Cantalope), Almond and Basil Salad instead. Cook time is minimal, so you don’t have to linger by the heat on a sweltering Melbourne day, and it’s super simple to prepare so you can reserve your energy for things like walking down the block, or getting the lid off your water bottle which you have probably refilled at least ten times when Melbourne is at it’s worst. I serve it as a main–it is refreshing and filling, and won’t bog you down. It’s definitely worthy of a gold :)

haloumi 3

Ingredients:

  • 12  1/3″ thick slices haloumi cheese (it’s the “meat in this dish” so i don’t skimp!)
  • 1/2 rockmelon/cantalope, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 french shallot, thinly sliced
  • a handful of basil, leaves picked and large ones torn
  • a few handfuls mixed salad greens

For the dressing: Mix olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sald and pepper to taste

1.Over medium high heat on the BBQ/grill, or on a grill pan or regular fry pan, cook  haloumi pieces in a bit of oil until golden brown on both sides (if doing this directly on the BBQ, just brush haloumi with oil). This only takes a few minutes on either side.

2. Combine remaining salad ingredients with dressing,  lay haloumi pieces on top and drizzle with a bit of extra dressing. Simple as that. Enjoy!

Avoid the Sugar Hangover! Gluten Free Peanut Butter, Cacao Nib, and Coconut Cookies

FoodShoot-4466
Photography by Kim Mennen and Jake Lowe, Styling by Ali Nardi
Notice: WordPress is having a mini meltdown and currently won’t recognize spaces between paragraphs. Sorry for the big block of text.
Last night I had my ladies over. We used to get together to exercise, but now, we mainly get together to eat and drink wine, which suits us all just fine…
I made a wholesome and really flavorsome classic for them: a lemon and rosemary roast chicken with roast spuds, sweet potatoes, garlic, and kale (I will try to post that recipe soon). My friend Alice is off the sugar Sarah Wilson style, and inspired by Alice, I haven’t been eating much processed sugar either. It’s usually just a bit of fruit everyday and that’s been the deal. I feel pretty good, and I considered this fact while deciding what to make them all for dinner.
We were all full and satisfied, but then my friend Amelia went into the kitchen, and returned with a box of gorgeous Greek pastries. So gorgeous, that even Alice crumbled. What was meant to be just a bite of each turned into a bit of a feeding frenzy, but lady style, so it didn’t actually look like a frenzy…. and before you knew it, there were only a few measly scraps left–which I ate for breakfast this morning to try and cure the terrible sugar hangover I awoke to this morning.
Sugar. It’s super addictive. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve never really had a sweet tooth, but a few months ago, I slipped into dangerously high sugar-eating territory, and it was a major effort to scale it back. I was addicted for a bit, and I don’t want to go back to that place. I always felt tired, bloated, and desperate for something sweet. It truly made me feel hungover in the morning, without the benefit of actually being drunk the night before..
That being said, I never planned and still don’t plan to quit sugar completely, and by sugar, I mean fructose. I don’t like extreme dieting. I love almost all foods, and to cut out sugar completely would be cutting out a lot more than just the sweetness. It would be cutting out experiences, not to mention always being the difficult one at the dinner table– or any table for that matter.
The problem was just that I was having sugar way too often–like with every meal, and that didn’t feel so hot…
I read Sarah Wilson’s e-book, I Quit Sugar, and there were some strong points in there, and it definitely helped me cut down big time. But that point that stood out to me the most is that she drinks a cup of warm milk while sniffing incense when she wants a treat– and that sounds fairly dreadful to me.
I like to enjoy a hard cider or two on occassion when I’m out with my friends. I clearly enjoy Greek pastries once in a while. I like making birthday cakes for me friends, and enjoying them with them. And I’m certainly not going to miss out on eating a gelato here and there throughout the summer.
So sugar is in, but only when it is really worth it. I stay away from it unless I am eating a proper dessert that accompanies an occasion. The Greek pastry event was a bit over the top, but again, experiences! It wouldn’t be as much fun to share a stick of celery around the table. But that’s one night. And the rest of the week will have to be pretty clean (with the exception of Thanksgiving, which is  free-for-all in my book.
Maybe I should have mentioned at the top that this is not a post that is trying to keep you off the sweets over the holidays. I have no place telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat. I’m just letting you know what I enjoy. Really, what I am trying to say is: I think it is ok to eat bad stuff, as long as it’s usually and mostly eating good stuff. (And Thanksgiving is only once a year…)

peanutbutter cookie 3

peanutbutter cookies

One way I manage to do this is by keeping treats that are low in sugar and packed with protein and good fats in the house, like Tahini Date Refrigerator Snacks.  This week, I’m talking about Peanut Butter Cookies– really good ones, with mostly good stuff in them apart from 1/8 cup honey. They are gluten free, and have some delicious optional extras in them. They are based on a recipe from Elana’s Pantry–she does great desserts– but I’ve cut the sugar in half, made a few other changes, and added some extras to keep you full for longer and add some more interesting flavor.

Enjoy!

FoodShoot-4419
Gluten Free Peanut Butter, Cacao Nib, and Coconut Cookies
Makes about 12 cookies
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tblsn cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded or dessicated coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat peanut butter, honey, butter and vanilla extract, until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients, and beat until well combined. Stir in cacao nibs and chopped peanuts.
  5. Scoop dough 1 tablespoon at a time onto lined baking sheet and press down with a fork.
  6. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Melbourne is Immune to Global Warming: Sesame Zoodles

Photography by Kim Mennen Styling by Ali Nardi

Photography by Kim Mennen, Styling by Ali Nardi

It’s obvious at this point that Melbourne doesn’t feel like giving its people a break. We love you Melbourne, but you don’t seem to love us back. It’s spring, and you are still throwing weather tantrums. It’s immature, and inconsiderate and I expect it to stop. Everyone is cranky and depressed, and I’m hitting that point too. Luckily, because we aren’t in NYC, no one is calling it, “weather prone depression,” but really we all have a touch of it. So cut it out. It’s just plain rude.

I’ve gone ahead and made something springy anyway. I’m sick of slow cooking, and roasts. I don’t want to play with my oven tonight. I want to embrace the fresh veg of spring– gosh, I don’t even know what spring means anymore. What-eh-ver.

I was skeptical about zucchini noodles–a.k.a.”zoodles”– for a long time. While on a somewhat Paleo stint I scoffed at the idea. I LOVE pasta. It is hands down one of my favorite foods ever. I wasn’t about to disgrace pasta by trying to recreate it with a zucchini. I was just going to have it once as a while, not as a a small treat, because I’m incapable of eating small portions of pasta. (I allow myself an occasional pasta binge.)

Then someone I knew got hold of a “zoodler” and I became a believer. This little gadget is simple, but efficient, and the zucchini comes out in a very satisfying spaghetti cut. It isn’t spaghetti, but it isn’t so far off, and you could just think of it as a totally different food that happens to go well with pasta/noodle sauces. I’m pretty into them, and have to make them often to justify spending nearly $40 on a piece of plastic.  I keep them raw when using them so the flavor is more neutral. If you sautee them, you will end up with a stronger zucchini flavor, but that will work for some dishes. It all depends on personal taste.

So here it is: Sesame Zoodles. This recipe, adapted from Zygot Bookworks & Cafe originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine,  is a veggie-packed, no-cook recipe that absolutely reeks of spring. It’s misses a lot of sore spots as it’s dairy free, free from processed sugars (you’ll need to purchase “no-sugar added”/ all natural peanut butter if you are avoiding sugar), gluten free, vegan and raw, but still tastes really good… Take that Melbourne!

zoodles 3

I’ve been making this for years using udon noodles, and now I use zoodles with it. You can really add whatever veggies you like. With the sauce, some people prefer it more peanut buttery or thicker/thinner so feel free to play around with the soy sauce, vinegar and stock, but these ratios are what I like.

If we pretend it’s warm, maybe it will actually become warm…

Sesame Zoodles (adapted from Zygot Bookworks & Cafe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more), finely chopped
  • finely chopped red chilli to taste (optional)
  • 3 spring onions/scallions thinly sliced plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cups shredded nappa cabage
  • 1 head bok choy, well rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • melted coconut oil or oil of choice to coat zoodles
  • 2 tblspn sesame seeds plus extra for garnish
  • about 3/4 zucchini per person to be made into zoodles–this recipe makes enough for 3 or 4 people.

1. To make the sauce, combine the first 5 ingredients, as well as the chilli if using. Make your zoodles and coat with a little bit of oil in  a large bowl. Add remaining vegetables and coat with sauce. Add sesame seeds. Garnish with extra sesame seeds and spring onions

Start the Week Right: Tahini Date Refrigerator Snacks

tahini balls 2

Photography by Kim Mennen, Styling by Ali Nardi

Clearly these are balls, but I’m too immature to use the word balls in the title for one of my posts…

I have been eating terribly lately! Lack of time means less making food at home, which means more eating out, which means eating a lot more junk, which means–you get the point. If I don’t take some time to make some healthy snacks to have in the house, and keep my fridge and pantry stocked with good stuff, as opposed to loading the freezer up with pizzas (it’s been known to happen), a vicious cycles begins. And I don’t think I’m alone…

I become addicted to the bad stuff, and lose interest in the better tasting homemade stuff, that also happens to be so much healthier, and make me feel so much better physically and mentally. I become sluggish, achy, and kind of cranky.

But then it becomes a bit too “icky” and I wake up one morning ready to start getting it right again. Today was a Monday, which I think is a great excuse for a fresh start. I ate good things all day, and then Anders gave me and my workout buddy a free personal training session (along with an elderly Chinese woman named Lily who came over to practice her English and then slipped her way into our training session). No, I am not a health nut who lives my daily life that way, but I try. Often, a workout just means I can then go have a greasy cheese burger after so I break even if you know what I mean, but I’m trying to get better at seeing the habbits in my life through for longer–not giving up burgers, or icecream–just having them less frequently. And I know having good snacks in the house helps me with this effort.

Anyway, the benders don’t really bother me that much, as long as I know I can squeeze my way back out of them, and button my pants again without it being too much of a struggle. The lack of time to make healthy food though is really still an issue at this juncture in my life, so finding some good, healthy, tasty snacks that aren’t too time consuming and don’t require me to turn on an oven can be tricky.

So thank goodness for Mona Hecke, author of The Lunchbox Revolution, and a former colleague who passed her “Protein Blast Balls” recipe onto me.  A kid’s lunchbox really is a great inspiration, as the point is healthy stuff without it tasting dull. I admit, I haven’t purchased her book and given it a good look, but based on how much I love this recipe, and the great feedback I received when I made them, I reckon it’s probably worth investing in.

tahini balls 5

There is no cooking, chopping, shredding, or even rinsing. You just need your ingredients, a measuring cup, and a food processor, and your ready to go. The whole process from start to finish is a quick 10-15 minutes, depending on how obsessive you are with getting those balls to look perfect. Your could also go with log shapes, or even squares. The choice is yours…. They last in a container in the fridge for ages, and you really only need one when you are after a pick me up. They are gluten free and dairy free. These are dense and delicious. The recipe calls for protein powder, which I realize isn’t something everyone has lying around. I only have access to it because Anders dabbles with the stuff… It ups the protein content of course, but it’s not gonna hurt anyone if you take it out.

tahini balls 4

tahini balls 3

Of course, I have made a few changes, apart from just changing the name…

  • I’ve taken out the agave, which I, and my fellow tasters, feel is unnecessary. The dates are definitely sweet enough on there own, and I don’t prepare food with agave. If you feel the need for extra sweetness, I recommend using honey instead, or adding a pinch of stevia.
  • Instead of almond meal, I’ve gone with LSA, which adds a bit more nutritional complexity.
  • I replaced goji berries with dried cranberries, because I prefer the taste, but also because they are a a bit out of my budget at the moment, and the budget for the rest of my life…  Also, someone I know will be eating these is allergic to them.
  • And finally, instead of just coating them in coconut, I recommend coating some in cacao powder.

Seriously good snacking grub…

Tahini Date Refrigerator Snacks

Adapted from The Lunchbox Revolution

Ingredients (Makes about 20 balls):

  • 1 cup LSA
  • 2 tbsp protein powder (optional/ vanilla protein works best for this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded or dessicated coconut, plus extra to coat
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • Tahini to bind–I used roughly 1/3 cup
  • cacao powder to coat (optional)

Place everything into a food processor and blend until well ground and combined. Add tahini by the tablespoon until ingredients bind together. Shape into balls and roll in dessicated coconut or cacao. Store in fridge in an airtight container.

The Jew-Factor: Just Follow the Matzo Crumbs… Passover Carrot Cake

Photography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

Except there are no matzo crumbs.

Being a Jew in Australia is both comical, and a little difficult to swing.

Here’s an example of the comical: Many Aussies assume that because I am Jewish, I am an expert on the Jewish religion– even though I am more of a Jew by heritage if you catch my drift. A friend wrote Anders an email when she returned from a trip to NYC: “While we were in New York, there were all these Jewish people dressed in traditional clothing going into these makeshift rectangle rooms. I think they were celebrating something? And the young boys were going around asking people if they were Jewish. Does Ali know what they were celebrating???”

The Difficulties: It’s not that I feel unwelcome or anything. It’s just that there isn’t really much of anything Jewish going on if you are a “casual Jew” like myself (something like a half-blood from Harry Potter, who grew up celebrating all Catholic and Jewish Holidays but never really tied any religious significance to either). So it’s hard to keep up with Passover, Yom Kippur, Chanukah. It’s also difficult to find egg noodles to make kugel with, and this is the real tragedy of it for me.

Being a Jew has always been a bit like wearing an accessory in my case–something I identify with to a certain extent and enjoy having as an extra flourish, but not something that I defined myself by…. until that is, I started living abroad and until I met Anders. In New York I am one of many who get called out while in the NYC subway: “Are you Jooeesh?” Here, it’s more of a novelty, because I am the only Jew most of my Aussie friends have ever encountered, or rather, known personally. And whether or not I chose to tell people doesn’t make a difference, as Anders has made it a well-known fact. It’s cute… sort of.  I didn’t understand how widespread the word was until people were leaving bacon just off of my plate (I do not keep kosher for the record). My favorite bit though is when Anders told his father I was Jewish before his father met me, and he said “Well don’t hold it against her!”

But like I said, no one I know has an issue with it. For the most part, they just didn’t grow up with it as part of their lives. During December holidays in Brisbane, there was no such thing as saying “Happy Holidays!” It’s just, “Merry Christmas!”

Bottom line: it’s good that people have a curiosity to know what it’s all about. I just wish I knew so I could tell them!

I feel like I should participate a bit in this inherited culture though, even without mom and dad and the olds here to organize Passover. I gotta represent! So this year, I have decided to do a mini Seder on the second night of Passover (tomorrow). In Brisbane, finding Passover products just wasn’t happening. But now we are in Melbourne, where the possibilities are endless (and the laksa is amazing!). Sure enough, there is Carlisle St. in Saint Kilda, an area that feels a lot like Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, about 45 minutes away from me via bike. So I took my wheels on an adventure yesterday, and got the necessary bits for passover. Matzo meal to make matzo balls, matzo bread (this is also nice to have in the house to snack on), and red horseradish (my favorite). The rest I can find at Vic markets tomorrow.

I also made a Passover Carrot Cake (flourless) that we can enjoy at the mini Seder and throughout the week, because I like having something sweet around that is nutritious enough to eat as a meal. I’m not a big fan of chocolate, and the typical flourless chocolate cakes at passover are too sweet and heavy for my taste, but I love a good carrot cake.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I’ve spiced it differently, added dried figs, and since I originally posted this, I have altered the frosting, as her cream cheese frosting didn’t really do it for me and can now give you an awesome cream cheese frosting recipe! Also, I simply don’t use gave in my food.

Instead of doing a two-layer cake, I do a one layer cake, and then make the rest into cupcakes, or do them all as cupcakes as a sweet snack to have during the  week– no frosting when going for the snack idea! (You might notice two are missing in the photo. Photographer Asia Upwards dog Bear got to them when we turned our backs for a second!)

Note: This cake is flourless (almond-meal), and can also be made dairy free by swapping out the melted butter with your oil of choice (I recommend coconut oil, or the original recipe calls for grape seed oil).

carrot cake 2 Asia

Flourless Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour (DO NOT use Bob’s Red Mill. It is too coarse)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup raisans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1 cup walnuts (plus a few extra for decoration)

Frosting

  • 1 cup creamcheese (about 250 grams)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (115 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 9 inch cake tins, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, using your fingers to break up any clumps of almond meal.
  3. In a seperate bowl, mix together eggs, honey and melted butter. Stir in carrots, raisans, figs, and walnuts.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry, and divide batter evenly into cake pans.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil. Allow to cool before removing from cake pans.
  6. For the frosting: With an electric beater, beat cream cheese until smooth in a  medium bowl. Add butter and honey and beat until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat cream until you have a nice thick whipped cream (don’t let it go to butter!). Combine with cream cheese mixture. Store in Fridge for up to a week, and store in freezer after that. To revive it, just beat it til smooth again.