Fermented Foods

Amidst the season of university assignments, I tend to find new and interesting ways to procrastinate. Or procrastibake (cue, chocolate chip cookies – comfort snacks to get me through the pain of assignments). As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve started a bit of a vege garden, mostly because I like the idea of cooking with food I’ve grown myself, but also as a new and fun way to distract me from the books. I’ve also been doing a fair bit of reading into fermented foods.

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Sauerkraut || Photo by The Kitchn

An ancient way of preserving food, fermentation is the process of converting the carbohydrates in foods into alcohol and carbon dioxide using yeasts and bacterias under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation was both practical and necessary back in the day; these products were sustainable food choices when the weather was harsh and fresh produce wasn’t available or plentiful.

Fermented foods have gained a reputation for its beneficial effects on immunity, gut health and general well-being. Lactofermentation enhances the micronutrient profile of certain foods which is not only good for you, but turns some plain and boring things into taste sensations! Lactofermentation doesn’t just occur in vegetables though, you can ferment dairy products as well. It increases the level of folic acid, B vitamins and riboflavin. Some other kinds of fermented food you may not be as familiar with include kombucha, kimchi, milk and water kefir.

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Kimchi || Photo by Nourish The Roots

If you’re keen to start making some delicious fermented treats, or just want an escape from that 50% assignment you need to complete, the easiest DIY project is sauerkraut. It requires very little equipment and is very simple to make. I’ve got some sauerkraut a’fermentin in my cupboard right now. The process is very easily found on the web, I followed the method from The Kitchn, and added 1/2 tbsp carraway seeds. So far so good, the cabbage seems to be softening well, but I’ll let you know how it tastes in a few weeks! I used a mason-type jar I found in my cupboard, however you can purchase utensils made for the job here and here. Don’t feel like your sauerkraut adventures are limited to German sausages though, you can enjoy a couple of spoonfuls each day in your salad, on a sandwich or bread roll or as a condiment to meat. Experiment with different vegetable combinations as well; daikon, carrot, beets and fennel krauts are delicious as well.

You can purchase sauerkraut easily enough, however store-bought kinds are often heavily processed and are treated with heat which destroys the enzymes and probiotics. Plus, they can be expensive! Food fermentation is easy enough, make it your next weekend project. If you do want the goodness of fermented veges without the effort try and purchase natural, organic and local products.

 

 

Brazil Nut Butter Bark

Nut butters are the easiest things to make; all you need is some sort of blending device and a little bit of time. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something other than PB & J though; something light, sweet, and satisfying. Look no further!

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You don’t need to worry about feeling guilty after scoffing down a few pieces; this nut butter bark has no refined sugar and is full of healthy fats. It’s a great replacement for the lover of salted caramel or fudge; the texture is pleasantly soft and melts in your mouth.

If you’re feeling creative, use different kinds of nuts to make the butter or swirl a little bit of dark chocolate through the mix right before you freeze for something a little special!

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Check out the recipe over at Moustache Magazine here

Roast Tomato Sauce

While it’s easy to buy pre-made, shitty sauces in a jar from your local grocery store, you can’t really describe the accomplished feeling you get when you make your own.

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Pasta sauces are incredibly easy to make; just a little bit of cooking and the whiz it all up into a smooth mess. The result is this rich, tasty, thick sauce made completely from fresh produce which accompanies pastas or meats perfectly.

I’m seeking this same accomplished feeling by attempting to grow some of my own plants too, so when I cook with vegetables, I can say the whole dish is truly homemade. So far I’ve got cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas growing in pots…I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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Roast Tomato Sauce
Makes approx. 2.5cups

1kg ripe tomatoes, halved
1 large red capsicum, halved, seeds and core removed
1 head of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch of fresh basil and parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place tomatoes (cut side up), capsicum (cut side down) and garlic cloves (skin still on) in a baking paper-lined tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until tomatoes have softened and capsicum and charred lightly.
Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry onion till soft. Add your tomatoes, capsicum and garlic (skin removed) and stir to combine all ingredients. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly before using a hand held blender to blend to desired consistency. I prefer my sauce a little chunky. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and stir through the fresh herbs. Serve over fresh pasta or as a side condiment to barbecued meats.

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Try my homemade potato gnocchi recipe on Moustache Magazine. You can find the recipe

Soba Noodle Salad

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Sometimes the biggest decision of the day can be ‘what will I have for lunch?’ Usually this question is asked at 7:30 in the morning, before work or university and your choice could potentially make or break your day.

You could buy lunch, but it’s expensive, and you’re poor. You could make food, but it’s a lot of effort, and you’re poor. You could get fast food, but people will judge you, and let’s face it, it can rack up a bill and you’re pretty fucking poor.

Soba noodles are an ingredient predominantly used in Japanese cooking. They’re easy to prepare, cheap and tasty, plus you can use them in a variety of ways. Salads are like cheerleaders: pretty to look at, but relatively unsatisfying. No offense if you’re a cheerleader, you could be part of the minority; attractive and underappreciated! Soba noodle salad is also part of that minority, plus it’s easy and cheap and you could probably make it half asleep. It’s a meal that ticks all boxes.

Read the recipe here

Vanilla Chia Pudding

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If you haven’t jumped on the chia bandwagon, you really should, because these little seeds are great for your health. Not only are they high in dietary fibre, making them great for digestion, they also contain protein (with 8 essential amino acids), omega 3, calcium, vitamin C, iron, potassium and are full of antioxidants.

When you combine chia seeds with a liquid, a gel forms, making them great for puddings. Pudding is fantastic. It’s easy, sweet and gelatinous, so you can basically just swallow it. Everyone likes those that swallow.

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Chia must love you. Love it back.

Read the recipe here.

Baked Apple Oatmeal

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From the moment my alarm goes off, I’m on a time crunch to do everything that needs to be done before I have to be at uni. Priorities include checking instagram, patting my cat, showering and eating. Usually in that order.

If you have spare time in the morning to bake apples, you’re probably not getting enough sleep and you should go and take a nap right now.

There is a way to fake baked apples though, so you can eat something as delicious as baked apple oatmeal!

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Baked Apple Oatmeal
Serves 1

For the oatmeal:
1/2 cup quick oats
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey

For the apples:
1 small apple
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water

Peel your apple if you prefer and slice into wedges before placing into a microwavable ziplock back or bowl. Add in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cornflour and water and shake or stir to combine. If using a bowl, cover with glad wrap, or seal your ziplock bag (leaving a little space for hot air to escape), and place into the microwave for 4 minutes on high.
For your oatmeal, combine oats, chia seeds, vanilla and milk in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes or until your oats have softened. Place your ‘baked’ apples on top, drizzle with honey and serve.

Salted Caramel Truffles

If you’ve got a special somebody you’d like to impress, nothing says erotic like chocolate-coated bites of caramel.

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Everyone is going to want your salty balls in their mouth.

Caramel does have a reputation for being a little exxy in the health department, but fear not, I’ve found a caramel recipe that will blow your socks off but not add on the kilos. All the rich, decadent flavour is still there but without the refined sugar so you can enjoy your hit of sugar without a worry in the world.

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Check out my latest Moustache Magazine recipe here.

Apple Crumble

Diet food sucks balls.

That’s the general consensus anyway.

At the moment, healthy food is as fashionable as Givenchy and I’m here to show you that it is possible to satisfy your hunger with a dessert that’s not a cavity-inducing pile of crap. Not that there’s anything wrong with stuffing your face full of sugar – sometimes we need it. Just don’t make it a regular thing. Your teeth with thank you.

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Apple crumble is like a sexy man with a beard who wants to hug you. It’s comforting and warming. It’s easy on the eyes and it would look even better drizzled with custard. The beard part is there because I like beards. Your apple crumble man doesn’t have to have facial hair.

Once you get a taste of sexy bearded man, you can’t really stop. But you don’t have to! This man is good for you! Your mother loves him! He’s open to your suggestions of cream or vanilla yoghurt to spice things up even further – you won’t look back!

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Remember this is a metaphor for apple crumble, but you could probably attract sexy bearded men with this recipe. You want it, I can tell.

Get the recipe on Moustache Magazine here.

Mango Coconut Ice Cream

Nothing says summer like beer. And barbequed meat. And lamingtons and pavlova. And sunscreen. And really bad tan lines. Deathly heat waves. Toads. Thunderstorms, fresh fruit, hats and beaches. The increased love of air-con. Sweat.

Actually there are many things that say summer.

Ice cream screams summer, and this is the season of mangoes. I rarely use mangoes for anything, as I really prefer to eat them as is. Especially when they’re cold. Mmmmm. I do love a good mango smoothie, but I’d rather buy it from a juice bar so I don’t have to witness the fruit being pulverised.

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My housemate bought a crate of mangoes from the markets a week ago and sadly (due to the incredible heat) they ripened at the speed of light and we had to throw them out. We managed to save two, but they were way too ripe to eat, so ice cream it is.

This recipe consists of 2 ingredients. However, if your fruit is not sweet enough, add some honey by the teaspoon until it reaches your desired level of sweetness or try bananas, dates or raw sugar. Also, if you prefer a more smooth ice cream texture but lack the motivation to churn/whisk it frequently, add a tablespoon of alcohol (triple sec or vodka perhaps), which will lower it’s freezing point and make the ice cream smoother. Feel free to add extra flavours such as cinnamon, ginger or passionfruit too, that could spice it up to a whole new level.

Mango Coconut Ice Cream
Makes 3 bowls

2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
200ml coconut milk

In a food processor, whiz together all ingredients until smooth. Pour into a container or bowl (a metal one works best), and then place in the freezer. Bring out and whisk every 45-60 minutes for 3 hours or so until ice cream is a smooth consistency. Alternatively, if you have an ice cream maker, churn as per instructions. You could also pour the mixture into ice block moulds if you wish!

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Raspberry and Coconut Loaf

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Spending these summer days inside a quaint little café is becoming more of a habit with the recent 40°C heat. How else can you enjoy coffee and cake if you’re not being blasted in the face with ice-cold air conditioning? For those lucky enough to have air-con, bring the freshly baked goods to you and whip up a simple loaf guaranteed to impress even the pickiest of guests.

Check out the recipe on Moustache Magazine here.

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