Acai Bowls

Acai bowl

Acai bowls are all the rage at the moment. I for one didn’t really get it the hype around them. I mean I love smoothies, but why do you need to make a smoothie that can only be eaten out of a bowl? After making a few myself though, I realized that eating them this way is what makes them special. It makes you really focus on the flavours when you’re having it a spoonful at a time, rather than slurping it up through a straw. Plus, the toppings add so much texture and extra flavour that you just can’t get from a normal smoothie. And so, the skeptic was converted.

Not only do they taste delicious, they are ridiculously aesthetically pleasing thanks to meticulously arranged fruit and seeds on top. I think that is the main attraction of making these bowls to be honest. You can add whatever toppings you like; honey, bee pollen, goji berries – whatever you think is Instagram-worthy really. Plus, they are full of acai, which is a modern day superfood hailing from Brazil. In Brazil, you can buy them fresh in their berry form, but here in Oz we have to use the powder, which is just as delicious. They are a rich source of antioxidants and fibre and help keep you fuller for longer, which is exactly what you want from your breakfast. Deee-licious!

Acai Bowls

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons acai powder
  • 2 bananas, chopped roughly (use frozen banana slices if you have time)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 ½ teaspoons nut butter (I used peanut)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 cup almond milk

For topping:

  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Chia seeds
  • Granola
  • Coconut flakes

Place the acai powder, bananas, raspberries, nut butter and honey in a high-powered blender. Blend until creamy, then gradually add the almond milk until you get a smooth but thick consistency. You want it to be a bit thicker than a smoothie. Pour into bowls and arrange with toppings. Serve immediately.

Banana and Walnut Bread

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I feel like banana bread is half the reasons bananas exist. It makes you feel like it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast because of all that fruit, when we all know deep down it’s more of a dessert but hey, points for trying right? It gives you the perfect reason to use those sad, possibly overripe bananas and turn them into a moist, delicious loaf (made even more delicious when slathered with lashings of butter). Plus, it’s so easy to make that you can get it all together and in the oven within 15 minutes and just sit back and relax while the beautiful banana aromas waft through the house.

This recipe isn’t overly sweet – so if you want to add another ½ cup of sugar be my guest. Also, the addition of walnuts isn’t obligatory, I just added them because I like the texture and crunch it gives the bread but you can replace them with chocolate chips or just omit them entirely. Enjoy 🙂

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Banana Bread

Makes 8 to 10 slices

Ingredients:

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, banana, spices and vanilla.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet mixture along with walnuts, being careful not to over mix (over mixing results in a tough cake).
  4. Pour the batter into a non-stick, or lightly greased and floured, 19 x 11cm loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve in thick slices with butter.

Spiced Chocolate Granola

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I try and whip up a batch of granola every week or two. It’s ridiculously easy to make and it ends up being a lot healthier and a lot cheaper to do it yourself. The store bought varieties are often laden with sugar and can cost $15 for one packet! There are countless combinations and variations to try for granola. This recipe is my go-to standby because I love the chocolatey hit of the cacao and the extra sweetness you get from the spices, which also provide a delicious aroma throughout the house while its baking. Feel free to play around with spices, different nuts and seeds though – whatever mix is your favourite really. You can also sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you can’t find rice malt syrup, I just like the flavour of the rice malt because it’s a bit milder than honey. Once you’ve baked the granola and cooled it, it should last about two weeks in a sealed jar, which makes deciding what to eat for breakfast super easy! Try this and let me know how you go 🙂 Do you have any other granola combinations you love? Izzy

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Spiced Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped natural almonds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped cashews
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • ¾ cup natural oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs rice malt syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 200C. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine, making sure that the coconut oil and rice malt syrup evenly coat all the dry ingredients. Place the mix onto two trays lined with baking paper and spread evenly over the trays. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, this will allow all the ingredients to crisp up and form clusters. Store in a sealed jar for up to two weeks. Serve with fresh berries, milk or yoghurt.

*N.B. To make this gluten free, omit the oats and add some extra nuts and seeds 🙂

Bircher Porridge with Berry Compote

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In the land of Westeros ‘winter is coming’, but here in Sydney it appears that winter has well and truly arrived. The rain has been tumbling down for over a week now and the temperature has dropped. It’s time to get the jeans and coats back out of the cupboard as it looks like they’re going to be on high rotation for the next few months. While, I’m a summer baby and love nothing more than spending the entire day soaking up the rays at the beach I have to admit there is something rather nice about being inside and cozy, and being able to watch the rain trickle (or cascade) down outside. The only trouble with cold weather is that it makes it that much harder to get out of bed. But with the promise of something warm and sweet, such as this bircher porridge, beckoning you from your snug bed, it might not be quite as hard. This breakfast is simple, quick, but most of all – comforting!

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Bircher Porridge with Berry Compote 

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup bircher muesli
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey or rice malt syrup
  • 4 strawberries, chopped
  • handful raspberries
  • handful blueberries
  • handful flaked coconut
  • small handful natural walnuts

Method:

  1. Place the bircher muesli, almond milk and half the honey in saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until it comes to the boil. Once it comes to the bowl, continue to stir continuously until the porridge reaches your desired consistency and take off heat.
  2. At the same time you are making the porridge place the berries and ½ cup water in a saucepan over a high eat. Stir occasionally, allowing the berries to disintegrate and form a sauce with the water. Keep stirring until the berry sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Pour porridge into a bowl, top with berry compote. Sprinkle with coconut and walnuts and drizzle with remaining honey and serve immediately.

Zucchini, Mint and Chilli Fritters with Avocado Salsa and Poached Eggs

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Opening the fridge to discover that there barely seems to be any food in there is a rather upsetting state to find yourself in. However, there is always a way to make something with whatever you have handy. Fritters are one of my favourite ways to use up what looks like nothing and turn it into something delicious. These fritters use zucchini simply because that’s what happened to be in my fridge but there are many other standby vegetables that make great fritters. Carrots taste delicious, especially if you add spices like cumin coriander seeds. Then there is corn, the most famous of the fritters but grated potato, sweet potato or peas also turn out tasty meals.

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Zucchini to me is a vegetable that needs the addition of a few other ingredients to really enhance its flavour. Pairing it with mint and chilli makes for a fresh, zingy fritter that is great for either breakfast or lunch.  The mint adds that hit of freshness and lightness while the chili gives the fritter a punchier kick. While fritters are tasty in their own right I find they taste best when there is a sauce or salsa added just because it gives the dish a different textural element and makes it a party for the senses. Creamy avocado salsa with a hit of zingy lime and the addition of an oozing poached egg on top equals a rather scrumptious trifecta.

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Zucchini, Mint and Chilli Fritters with Avocado Salsa and Poached Eggs

Serves: 3

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 large avocado, roughly chopped
  • ¼ clove garlic, grushed
  • ½ chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ Spanish onion, diced
  • ½ tbs lime juice + extra lime to serve
  • ½ tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

 Zucchini fritters:

  • 2 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 sprigs shallots, chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs flour

Poached eggs:

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tbs white wine vinegar

Method:

  1. Avocado Salsa: Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Using a fork, gently stir the ingredients together ensuring that the avocado still remains chunky. Season with salt and pepper and stir again.
  2. Zucchini fritters: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Heat two-three teaspoons olive oil in a shallow fry pan over a medium-high heat. Drop 3 2tbs size dollops of the zucchini mixture into the fry pan and cook for 1½-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden. Place fritters on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remainder of the mixture.
  3. Poached eggs: At the same time as you are preparing the mixture for the zucchini fritters fill a shallow saucepan close to the brim with water and place over a high heat on the stove. Add in the vinegar. Once the water has boiled lower the heat to a simmer. Crack each egg into a cup and gently pour the egg into the saucepan on the water’s surface. Do not drop the egg from a height or the white will spread and fill the pan. Repeat with each egg and cook for 2-3 minutes for a semi-soft yolk.
  4. To assemble stack two fritters, place a third of the avocado salsa on top and then finish with a poached egg. Serve with extra lime.

Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

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Sunday is the sort of day where you are allowed to treat yourself. You’ve come to the end of the weekend and you know you have to face the real world again tomorrow, you might be nursing a sore head or you might just be allowing yourself some well-earned relaxation time. Either way, it is my opinion that if it’s Sunday it is very much acceptable to indulge in some of the things you might not allow yourself to do during the rest of the week. And eating pancakes is one of them. And if you’re going to treat yourself you may as well do it right.

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These pancakes are fluffy and light through the combination of the beaten egg whites and the creamy ricotta. This duo ensures that the stodge-factor, which is present in many pancakes, will not be present here. I have added only a little sugar as I’m not as fond of overly sweet pancakes but this amount can easily be adjusted according to personal preference. I topped them with fresh berries as they were in season but lemon, butter and sugar is always a hit as well.

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Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups self-raising flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ tbs caster cugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • Butter, to grease
  • Berries, to serve
  • Maple syrup

 Method:

  1. Place flour, egg yolks, caster sugar, milk and ricotta in a bowl and mix until just combined.
  2. Place egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer and stiff peaks form.
  3. Gently fold the egg whites through the batter mixture in two batches.
  4. Heat a fry pan over a medium heat. Melt a knob of batter in pan. Place large spoonful’s of the mixture in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until the sides are golden in colour. Repeat until batter is empty. Serve with berries and maple syrup.

Middle Eastern Baked Eggs

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There’s something about the rain that makes you crave comfort. Soft blankets, hot tea and a terribly bad but oh so good romantic comedy. And maybe something to satisfy your belly as well. Last night the rain was torrential. I find it rather peaceful and soothing when it rains, especially when you can watch the droplets fall from the comfort of your dry, warm home. But some people don’t find it so comforting. Take my two dogs for example. Something inside them stirs and they turn into highly-strung, barking maniacs. So sadly, my moment to enjoy the rain was short lived last night. Instead I went to bed feeling rather annoyed at my cute but crazy canines. To make up for such an uneasy night I decided to comfort myself with these Middle Eastern baked eggs for breakfast this morning. And they seemed to do the trick.

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This recipe is quite similar to shakshuka. I made it once at home when the pantry was rather sparse and it turned out to be a rather tasty dish. The main difference is that shakshuka contains capsicum and my dish does not, instead I use chickpeas. The spices too are quite similar. The lemony, citrus flavour of the freshly ground coriander seeds, the pungent earthiness of the cumin, the sweet paprika and hot dried chilli. I also add a little cinnamon for the beautiful aroma it provides and that spicier sweetness.

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This dish is so simple and quick to make but still satisfies comfort food cravings. It is important to sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent so that the sharp, slightly bitter taste subsides and the sweetness starts to shine through. The tomatoes adore this sweet garlic and onion mixture and once it is reduced further the dish turns a dark, velvety red and the sauce becomes rich. To finish the dish coriander is a lovely accompaniment, but sadly I had run out this morning. However I normally do add a little and it gives the dish that nice fresh hit to balance the rich tomato sauce.

 Middle Eastern Baked Eggs 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g diced canned tomatoes
  • 125g canned chickpeas
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ⅓ tsp chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the onion and garlic in a skillet pan or small frying pan. Sauté over a low heat until they start to become soft and translucent in colour.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes and cook over a medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, coriander seeds, chilli flakes, cinnamon, paprika and chickpeas and stir. Season generously with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 4 minutes or until the sauce starts to reduce and thicken.
  4. Crack the two eggs into a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the pan and pour the eggs in. Leave to cook on low heat for about a minute and then transfer to oven to cook for 12 minutes. Serve.