fig, hazelnut + cocoa granola spiked with espresso

I have a torrid love-hate affair with coffee. Love the taste, loathe the after-effects: racing heart, sweaty palms, inability to sit still. It’s never agreed with me, despite my love for everything coffee. It marries beautifully with cocoa, cardamom and vanilla, to say the least. It’s the epitome of social catch-ups. It makes sleepless nights (and the unavoidable morning to follow) that much more bearable. I watch my Italian family knock back espresso’s like water, while I slip slowly on my chamomile tea, because Italians think you’re a martian if you ask for decaf. But luckily, in the safety of my kitchen walls, away from confused barista’s glances, I can use decaf freely, and it works a treat.

granola jar

I mentioned espresso pairs so well with cocoa, and this is key in this recipe. With both having a rich and earthy flavour, they play off each other wonderfully. You can’t taste the espresso explicitly as it more so lends an intensity to the overall chocolate flavour, and the figs lend the sweetness that roasted, dried fruit brings. The hazelnuts and nut butter give it a Nutella-esque feel, while also giving you a great hit of protein and good fats. A little goes a long way with this batch, so top a handful with fresh fruit, creamy yoghurt and your favourite milk to give you a deliciously naughty but nutritious breakfast (or midnight snack).

granola

fig, hazelnut + cocoa granola spiked with espresso – vegan, gluten-free (if using certified oats) – loosely adapted from the kitchn

you’ll need…

  • 120g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cups finely chopped dried figs
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (70% cocoa content – sub cacao nibs or omit if you don’t have)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp dark cocoa (I use Cacao Barry Brute – sub 2 tsp regular cocoa if you don’t have)
  • 2 tblsp hazelnut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 fresh espresso shots (60ml – I use 2x decaf pods – if you prefer a less intense bitterness, use only 1x30ml shot)

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 160C (fan-forced). Place hazelnuts, oats, buckwheat, figs, pepitas, chia and choc chips in a large bowl, stirring to combine.
  2. Place remaining ingredients into a small saucepan and heat on medium, stirring just until mixture comes together. Pour contents of pan into the bowl of oat mixture, stirring to coat thoroughly.
  3. Spread mixture onto a lined baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until mixture starts to dry out slightly and brown up. Allow to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container.

Note: I’m not a fan of super sweet granola, preferring to add sweetness in the form of fruit (this pairs wonderfully with fresh strawberries and banana). If you prefer it sweeter, up the maple syrup content during prep, tasting as you go.

baked ricotta with honey, orange + toasty walnuts

I’m definitely a sweet-toothed-breakfast kinda gal. Not in the sense that I require a batch of breakfast brownies at the ready as I roll out of bed (although, that’s got me thinking…), I just prefer the fruity, lighter options to start the day. I’ve been looking for inspiration, something different to add to the morning repertoire, and after the hubby bought 1kg of the creamiest ricotta for a recipe that only required 100g, I was left with much web-trawling time to find a use for the remaining 900g. I knew where my search would begin.

IMG_20150701_093333

Gourmet Traveller always have the most unique and, well, gourmet recipes with a great search function that allows you to find a recipe for any ingredient you’ve got lying around. This one in particular jumped out at me, being won over simply by the recipe’s picture. Oh, and it’s simplicity! The ricotta ends up soaked in this gloriously sticky-sweet honey syrup that permeates every little air bubble within the creamy cheese. I ran out of almonds, so substituted with toasty walnuts, a welcomed addition. I think you could use just about any nut – hazelnuts spring to mind also – and try it with maple instead of honey for a different kick. I kept it gluten free, opting to use almond meal instead of the plain flour. The result is the lightest, most moist and warming wedge of ricotta that paired perfectly with dense wholemeal spelt. So versatile, you could serve it with fresh fruit or as a light dessert – either way, it’s satisfied my mornings sweet-tooth in a relative wholesome way, that’s for sure.

IMG_20150701_084819

baked ricotta with honey, orange + walnuts – adapted from Gourmet Traveller – serves 4-6 – gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 40g butter, at room temperature
  • 55g raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp almond meal
  • 380g dry, firm ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • handful of toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • for the orange syrup:
    • zest of 1 orange, and juice of half the orange
    • 80gm honey

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 240C. Beat the butter, sugar and honey in an electric mixer until smooth. Add in eggs individually, beating until well combined. Fold in the ricotta and almond meal (I use the lowest speed on my Kitchenaid).
  2. Transfer to a greased and lined 9-inch cake tin, smoothing mixture evenly in the pan. Bake for 12-16 min or until puffed and golden (mine took closer to 20 min – just keep a close eye so it doesn’t burn!).
  3. For the syrup, combine ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until honey dissolves. Spoon it over the baked ricotta and then top with walnuts, serving it with some dark, rich sourdough.

pear, berry + rose breakfast crumble

Here’s an idea: dessert for breakfast (you’re welcome). I urge you to read on and discover a recipe that can be a straight-laced midweek breakfast, or given a touch of naughty to transform it into the sweetest weekend dessert. It will truly warm you from the inside out. Either way, you’ll be getting a healthy dose of nuts, seeds, fruit and heart-loving oats! Neat, huh?

IMG_20150330_140202IMG_20150330_140000

Between the screaming children demanding their morning cereal, my voracious appetite and my eyes that insist on staying closed, some mornings leave me little (peaceful) time to organise a healthy breakfast before my blood sugar goes way underground. Enter this pre-prepared crumble which can be made 4-5 days ahead, and reheated as you need. I often make this in the evening, when its (you guessed it) peaceful, and sneak in a little taste tester. You’ll find, though, that the juices will thicken and soak more into the ruby-tinged fruit if left to cool down overnight then reheated in the morning.

It only takes 15 or so minutes to reheat in the oven (or microwave it in seconds flat – I do not have this time luxury) and you can do all this whilst having a shower, mopping up cornflakes or realising you’ve no clean clothes to wear to work. Time efficient breakfast – check. Feel free to leave out the rosewater if it’s not your thing, but it does add a beautiful floral note to the fruit. Serve with natural yoghurt, vanilla labne or organic cream.

IMG_20150330_135725

pear, berry + rose breakfast crumble – serves 4-5 – wheat free, refined sugar free

you’ll need…

  • 1 large pear, or 2 small ones, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups fresh/frozen strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp rapadura or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp rosewater or to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup macadamias, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee or butter/coconut oil

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Toss the fruit with 1 tbsp of rapadura sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla powder, rosewater and a pinch of salt. Place into a 6 cup baking dish and spread out evenly. Alternatively, you could divide mixture between 4-5 baking dishes, baking fresh with the topping upon serving.
  2. Combine the nuts, pepitas, oats, coconut, ghee, remaining vanilla and sugar with a pinch of salt, and sprinkle over fruit in baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, or until topping is golden and filling is bubbling up the sides a little. To allow juices to soak into mixture, let it cool down overnight and in the morning, take out a serving and reheat, serving with yoghurt or labne.

orange + ricotta spelt pancakes

I have a thing for breakfast. Surely, by now, its evident yeah? I often go to bed with the thought of the impending morning’s breakfast. From a nutritional point of view, it’s crucial. It just has to happen in order for you to function well, and to be a remotely enjoyable person being to be around. I’m sure some of you are thinking ‘what? nah, coffee is what makes me human each morning’, but breakfast is to me what coffee is to most. And I mean, food’s gotta happen within 20 minutes of me waking, or else. Whatever your desires, make sure you eat a lil’ something each morning, as you are literally ‘breaking the fast’, revving up your metabolism to support you throughout the day. All you need is a piece of fruit or some nuts…or maybe these!

IMG_20150325_192630

Smitten Kitchen has to be one of my favourite food blogs. Her witty writing and delectable recipes have won me over, and I’m yet to try a dish of hers that I don’t like. So it’s only logical that these little morsels originate from her site. I’ve chopped and changed it slightly, both to suit my tastes and to amp up the nutrition factor. I’ve swapped out the plain flour for wholemeal spelt, used raw sugar and substituted orange zest for the lemon. Abundant in protein and rich fats, these are bound to keep you going until lunchtime. Try serving these with berries and mint as I have, with a healthy dollop of natural yoghurt (flavoured with vanilla bean) on the side. Although, I do hear mascarpone could be a strong candidate…

IMG_20150325_192735IMG_20150325_192843

orange + ricotta spelt pancakes – adapted from smitten kitchen – serves 3-4; wheat free

you’ll need…

  • 4 free-range eggs, separated
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 tblsp raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 tblsp orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • butter/ghee for the pan
  • to serve: fresh berries (or defrosted frozen ones), vanilla yoghurt (I stirred through vanilla powder), mint

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat oven to its lowest temperature setting. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta, sugar and zest. Sift in the flour, stirring until just combined.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or using hand beaters, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Whisk a third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mix to loosen, then fold in remaining egg whites gently until just combined.
  3. Heat your pan on medium with a knob of butter, and place 1/4 cup measurements of the batter into the pan, cooking 3 at a time so as not to overcrowd. They’ll need 2 or so minutes each side, until golden brown. Transfer cooked pancakes to oven to keep warm while you make the rest.
  4. Serve with berries, yoghurt and maybe some crunchy chia or nuts, finally scattering with mint.

pea + ricotta fritters with avocado salsa

Nothing beats a light lunch. Especially after you’ve been devouring hot cross buns all morning. There’s something about green meals that can magically undo any cheeky over-indulging you may have done in recent days. And as I hang onto the last of the fleeting summer days, this meal is light enough to sustain you for a warm day’s lunch or it can be paired with poached eggs for a cool morning’s breakfast. Take your pick!

IMG_20150318_150234

The recipe calls for firm ricotta, and as that seemed harder to find than a rainbow’s leprechaun guarding his gold, I settled for the soft stuff, and the results were pillowy, golden fritters that worked well. Mundella is my brand of choice – no weird additives or preservatives. These beauties are protein rich from the cheese and peas, as well as boasting plenty of healthy fats from the avocado plus vitamin C from the tomatoes. And remember, opt for full fat dairy as it’s less processed, and the fat is vital to absorb the vitamin D present.

IMG_20150318_145910

pea + ricotta fritters with avocado salsa – adapted from Coles – serves 3/4 for a light lunch, or 2 for a more substantial meal

you’ll need…

  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 350g fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1/4 (35g) cup plain flour
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1 avocado, ripe but fairly firm, stoned, peeled, chopped
  • 200g cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1 tbs lime juice, plus zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, plus extra for serving
  • black sesame seeds

here’s what you do…

  1. Cook the peas for 2 minutes in boiling water, or until tender. Drain, and add half to a large mixing bowl. Mash coarsely, then add in whole peas, egg, ricotta, parmesan and flour. Mix to combine, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tblsp of oil per batch, ensuring the pan never smokes. With the pan on medium heat, place 1/4 cup of batter in the pan for each fritter, frying 3 per batch. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden. Keep the fritters rather compact instead of spreading them out thinly, which ensures they stay together.
  3. For the salsa, combine the avocado, tomatoes, lime juice and zest and mint leaves, tossing to combine. Season well, finishing with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
  4. To serve, place 2-3 fritters on each plate (depending on how many people you are serving), top with mint leaves and a squeeze of lime, and serve with the salsa.

quinoa, maple + date porridge with fresh banana

I know what you’re thinking. What on earth is this warm, snuggly bowl of porridge doing popping up in my feed in the residual summer heat? Well, autumn is one step closer to winter, and sometimes the mornings can be a bit chilly. Plus, this is light yet sustaining and filling all at the same time, so this recipe comes in handy when your brekky needs a do-over.

IMG_20150208_082209

This baby is gluten free, dairy free (if you use dairyfree yoghurt or omit altogether) and super easy to whip up. Quinoa flakes cook in next to no time, packing a real nutritious protein-punch. Oh, and did you know quinoa is a complete protein? That means it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, perfect for all you vegans and vego’s out there. Add to that the beautiful fats + vitamin D from the yoghurt and the energy-rich bananas + dates, and you’re on your way to beginning the day on a positive note! I’ve sprinkled some homemade orange and coconut granola on top but you can use any other granola you have, or even some macadamias, almonds, walnuts…

quinoa, maple + date porridge with fresh banana – serves 1 – dairyfree/glutenfree

you’ll need…

  • 1/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (plus extra for serving)
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup (plus extra for drizzling)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2-3 chopped dates
  • banana
  • natural yoghurt
  • optional: granola/crushed nuts for serving

here’s what you do…

  1. Place quinoa flakes, almond milk, maple syrup and salt into a small saucepan and simmer for 2-3 min, or until flakes are tender.
  2. Serve in bowl with dates, sliced banana, dollop of yoghurt, granola/nuts and maybe a cheeky drizzle of maple syrup and extra milk if desired.

vanilla-chai bircher with cashew milk, figs + buckinis

Milky chai, in its most traditional form, laden with honey and sweet milk, is purely satisfying in both its spice and richness. It wraps me up, parts the clouds for a mere moment. So what on earth am I doing sharing such a warming, nurturing recipe in the heat of summer? See, this is where I blow your mind. This bircher has the delectable flavour of chai interwoven with vanilla and cashew, yet it’s served cold. Neat, huh? Of course, come winter, when your bones are a snowflake away from being pure ice, you can warm this up in the pan, adding a little more milk to loosen it up. Soaking the oats and seeds overnight will assist with digestion, allowing nutrients like vitamin B, magnesium and iron to be readily absorbed into your body, perfect for sensitive tummies. Plus, who doesn’t like having breakfast ready the moment they roll out of bed?

2015-02-22 07.19.21

I love the creamy richness the cashew milk imparts, and I find it to be gentler on my tummy, but feel free to indulge in any other nut milk or full cream dairy. It’d work especially well with almond milk, even coconut milk. If you can’t get a hold of those magical, fresh figs (say, from a neighbours overhanging tree), sub in any other stonefruit, or in the winter months, oranges would team nicely. And try to get your hands on either pre-made buckini’s or make them yourself (super easy), you won’t regret the cinnamony-crunch they add. This recipe is totally adaptable, it’ll change with the seasons. It’ll become like a good friend to you, honest.

IMG_20150220_214423-1

vanilla-chai bircher with cashew milk, figs + buckinis – serves 1

you’ll need…

  • 1/3 cup oats (not the quick-cooking type)
  • 1 tsp flaxseeds/linseeds
  • 1/2 tbsp pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cashew milk (I make mine with a ratio of 1 cup of soaked nuts to 3 cups of water)
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed black chai (my all time fave is Prana Chai’s masala blend)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • to serve – caramelised buckinis (to make your own, you’ll find the recipe I used here), fresh figs, natural yoghurt, extra milk if preferred

here’s what you do…

  1. Combine the oats, seeds, vanilla and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add the cashew milk and mix to combine, ensuring all the ingredients are wet.
  3. Dissolve the honey in the tea, then add to the bowl of oats, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Soak overnight and sleep tight.
  5. The next morning, slice up your figs and top the bircher with them along with the buckinis, yoghurt and a cheeky drizzle of honey, should your heart so desire. If it’s cold, heat the mix in the pan gently before adding the toppings.