Sunday, July 19, 2015

Winter Creations w/ Maxwell & Williams

Maxwell & Williams is an Australia-owned company that has built an international reputation for excellence. They started in 1996 with a simple white dinner set and a few accessories and have become a leading provider of affordable quality homewares, shipping to places far from these shores.

Today their range is diverse and includes a wide variety of materials: glass, ceramics, stainless steel, acrylic, bamboo and more. There's certain to be something perfect in their collection that will work in nicely with your home and its decor, whether you're looking to outfit your kitchen or tabletop. 

I recently had the pleasure of experimenting with their Pyromax and Chef du Monde Range. As a result, I have created a delicious paleo-friendly three course meal that you too can make at home.

Enjoy x

The Pyromax range has a clean sleek look that will compliment most kitchens. The borosilicate glass is oven, microwave and freezer safe and it can be thrown into the dishwasher for easy cleaning. The glass is non-reactive, odour free and can even double as a serving dish for a party-sized slab cake ( paleo of course) or fruit salad.The inclusion of integrated lifting handles in the rectangular roaster makes it safe and easy to carry from the kitchen to the table.

The Chef du Monde range is simple, contemporary and are microwave, dishwasher and oven safe. 

Entree: Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup


The beauty of this soup is that you can basically add any vegetables to it as long as you include the pumpkin or sweet potato ( or both). It gives the soup a lovely creamy texture when blended. I add a quality stock to my vegetable soup for a little protein boost and it also imparts a great flavour. 

Simply add a little extra filtered water if you find the stock doesn't give you enough liquid to cook the vegetables. You should have enough liquid to just cover the vegetables in the pot. 

This recipe usually makes enough for three of us the night I make it and also fills my Pyromax Round Container ( 950ml) which I then freeze for a meal later the following week.
Maxwell and Williams Pyromax Round Container 950ml
On weeknights, its a great feeling knowing I can prepare a nutritious meal with minimal effort.



ingredients
1 piece of butternut pumpkin or sweet potato ( or a combo of both)(approx 300-500g total), chopped. 
50g grass fed/organic butter
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 large zuchinni, roughly chopped 
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small knob of fresh ginger grated
500ml quality grass fed/organic chicken or beef stock 
1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filtered water ( if needed)
Herbs of your choice ( parsley, basil or coriander), chopped

method
Melt butter in a big pot and fry off onions, garlic and ginger until the onions are translucent. Next add the chopped vegetables and stir until caramelised and they have softened slightly. Add the stock and cover until the soup starts to boil. Then reduce heat and allow t simmer for about 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are completely soft.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before placing into your blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pour back into the pot to heat before serving.

Add the chopped herbs to the soup to garnish before serving.

Enjoy.


Main: Slow-Roasted Lamb Shanks w/ Cauliflower Puree


ingredients
4-6 lamb shanks,
1/3 cup arrowroot
2 tbsp olive oil
20 g butter
8 eschalots, peeled
1 knob of fresh garlic, halved horizontally
1 1/2 cups red wine
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup quality beef stock
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp coconut sugar
3 sprigs rosemary
1 qty cauliflower puree or rice ( to serve)


method
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the arrowroot on a plate and coat the lamb shanks.

Heat the oil in a large fry pan and fry the shanks over medium heat until browned. 
Remove the shanks from the pan and place them in your Maxwell and Williams Pyromax Rectangular Baker. 
Set aside. 

Reduce the heat in pan and melt butter. Add the sliced eschalots and garlic and cook fro about 5 minutes, until they have a little colour and have started to soften. 

Add the red wine, vinegar and beef stock and stir in the tomato paste, coconut sugar and rosemary.

Bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour over lamb shanks. Cover the dish with foil an place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. 


After an hour remove from oven and turn the lamb shanks and stir through the sauce. Recover and place back in the oven for another hour or until the lamb is tender. 

Once the lamb is cooked, check the consistency of the sauce – if it’s too thin, remove the lamb and eschallots, keep warm, then simmer the sauce over a medium heat until it reduces to the desired consistency.

Serve with cauliflower puree or rice.

Dessert: Paleo Apple Crumble


ingredients
6 large Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped into uniform chunks
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
filtered water

Crumble
1 cup green banana flour
1/2 cup almond meal
100g chilled butter, chopped
3 tbs chopped raw walnuts
2 tbs chopped raw macadamias
1/4 cup pepitas
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs pure maple syrup or raw honey


method
Preheat your oven to 220'C (200'C FF)

Combine apple, maple syrup and 1 tbs water in the Chef du Monde (2.6 litre) round casserole dish.


Cover with lid and place in oven for 20 minutes until the apple has softened slightly.

Make crumble by rubbing the butter through the flour and almond meal until a crumble starts to form. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir through. Spoon the mixture over the apple and drizzle with maple or raw honey.

Bake the crumble-topped apples for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve with paleo custard or coconut whipped cream.


The Food Mentalist road tested the Pyromax & Chef du Monde Range compliments of Maxwell & Williams.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

5 Health Benefits of Raw Honey


If you love honey, it might be time to switch from your regular brand and go raw.  Raw honey isn't heated, strained or filtered, a process used in conventional honey production that destroys the beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes found in raw honey

Here are 5 reasons to go RAW.

1. Boosts Immunity
The phytonutrients in raw honey have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can boost your immune system and fight off bugs. Add some to a hot mug of boiling water, along with a dash of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found in normal and overweight people, raw honey also reduces blood lipids, the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine, and in people with Type 2 diabetes honey lowered plasma glucose levels compared with dextrose and sucrose.

2. Naturally Suppresses Coughs
Forget the chemist and open up your pantry instead. Numerous scientific studies have shown that raw honey is often more effective at suppressing a cough and/or sore throat than many of the concoctions you will find at the chemist. Try mixing a teaspoon of raw honey with fresh lemon and hot (freshly boiled) water and sip on it slowly to ease symptoms. Add some freshly grated ginger and/or garlic for and added boost during winter.

3. The Perfect Sweetener
When you do get a sweet craving that won't budge, raw honey is one of the best choices you can make. Full of natural vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants its the perfect sweetener. Ditch the refined nasty white stuff and grab a jar of raw honey instead. 

4. Healthy Gut
According to Hippocrates, " death sits in the bowel". Much of our immune system is located around the bowel and probiotics are important to help maintain our immunity and prevent colds and infections. It is therefore important that we maintain a healthy level of good bacteria to prevent germs from setting up home there and making us sick. Bowel related conditions like IBS, ulcerative colitis, diarrhoea as well as asthma and eczema respond well to the presence of probiotics. Prebiotics are food for probiotics and raw honey is full of prebiotics. 

5. Sweet Dreams
Raw honey is known for its soothing properties and its ability to provide sleep relief. Honey may help facilitate the action of tryptophan, which helps make people sleepy. Having trouble drifting off? Try one teaspoon of raw honey before bed and see if you notice a difference.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Food Society - Darlinghurst

Food Society, a bar and restaurant is located on Riley Street in Sydney's Darlinghurst. An unassuming facade conceals a hidden gem which reminds us of visiting Nan's house. A fun welcoming 1950's vibe fills the space, complete with gorgeous florals, lace and mismatched cups and saucers. We instantly feel relaxed as we settled in for their award-winning vodka high tea.



We started with a delicious vodka cocktail, Watermelon Caiprioska -  topped with wild watermelon iced tea and watermelon ice-cubes. Divine.



The savoury and sweet high tea tiers  soon followed, along with the option to continue with a vodka selection or down the path of warming fragrant teas. We chose the latter as it was cool outside and seemed fitting.



Each morsel was fresh and flavoursome, the teas were equally delicious and service was attentive.



Food Society's seasonally changing menu of Modern Eastern European offers modern twists on Polish, Czech, Bulgarian and Balkan Cuisine in the cooler months, and inspiration from the Adriatic in summer. Small and larger plate options make up the menu, with meals designed to share. There are some good paleo and primal friendly dishes as well as house-made gluten-free bread option.

My girlfriend and I found ourselves lingering at Food Society long after we finished. We were still nursing our delicious fragrant tea, sure. But also relishing in the fun, relaxed vintage vibe, along with other cool customers. 

A great place to relax and enjoy some great food and drinks with friends,family or even a date. 
Food Society

Lower Ground Floor, 
91 Riley St. Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW

Thursday to Saturday: 5.30pm until late 

Vodka High Tea 
Saturday: 11.30am to 5.30pm
bookings essential for Vodka High Tea!

foodsociety.com.au


The Food Mentalist dined as a guest of Food Society.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cauliflower, Currant and Almond Paleo Couscous w/ Herbies Spices

Herbies in Sydney's Rozelle is somewhat of an institution,packed full of interesting and delicious spices and cooking inspiration. On the 7th of July, they will celebrate their 18th year in operation. Congratulations guys!

They recently introduced a new spice kit to their range - The Low Calorie Spice Kit (RRP $35.00)


It includes the following spices:

  • Lemon & Herb Pepper
  • Ras El Hanout
  • Greek Seasoning
  • Sumac
  • Mild Curry Powder
  • Berbere Spice Mix


The kit also includes 13 delicious recipes most of which are paleo and primal friendly. To give you an idea, I have included one of them below which utilises the Ras El Hanout 'Top of the Shop' spice - An exotic blend of 23 different spices, including saffron.





Cauliflower, Currant & Almond Paleo Couscous

ingredients
300g cauliflower florets
1 tbsp currants
1tbsp flaked almonds
1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil ( or coconut oil)
1 tsp Herbies Ras el Hanout spice mix
2 tsp preserved lemon, very finely chopped
salt to taste

method
Process cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles fine rice like grains, similar to couscous. 


Heat oil in a large frying pan and add cauliflower and spice mix. Cook over medium heat, stirring, 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned and cauliflower is cooked.

Add currants, almonds, mint and preserved lemon and stir to combine. Season to taste and serve. Can be served hot or cold.

To win one of Herbies new Low Calorie Spice Kits - Please leave a comment telling us which spice couldn't live without and why. Don't forget to leave a valid email address so we can get in contact with you. Enter as many times as you like. 

The winner will be drawn on Saturday 4 July 2015. The winner will be announced on The Food Mentalist blog, Facebook & Twitter pages and contacted via email shortly after.

Competition is open to Australian residents only.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Caramelised Pumpkin w/ Basil & Black Olives

This recipe is super easy, tastes great and will impress dinner guests. Serve alongside your favourite protein - this literally goes with everything. The salty olives balance out the sweetness of the roasted pumpkin. Divine.

Caramelised Pumpkin with Basil & Black Olives




ingredients
½ pumpkin ( butternut, kent or jap), cut into wedges about 1cm thick
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs raw honey or maple syrup
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
¾ cup ( about 100g) of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and pepper

method
Preheat oven to 180’C.
Place pumpkin on a baking tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil and raw honey or maple syrup. Season well with salt and pepper and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tender and caramelized.
Combine basil, olives, zest and juice in a separate bowl and set aside.

Remove pumpkin from oven once cooked and serve sprinkled with the basil and olive mixture.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Food Allergy Awareness Week

This week is Food Allergy Week (17-23 May) and it is important that we all know what to do if a reaction happens, how to minimise the risk of a reaction and to understand and support family and friends living with food allergies.

It took me about ten years of suffering to discover I had allergies to both wheat and soy. Which subsequently led me to choosing my paleo lifestyle





My soy allergy is the more severe of the two - with a reaction occurring within minutes of consuming it. If I have just the tiniest amount of soy milk, soy sauce, tofu or any other direct soybean product I will literally be in agony. Very quickly. I remember going to a new popular Ramen restaurant with some work colleagues once and before I left the restaurant I was literally bent over in pain. 

Over the years, I managed reactions with over the counter IBS related medication but nothing really worked properly. Over a six-month period, I underwent a series of medical and food related tests under the guidance of an excellent clinical immunologist and allergy specialist. 

From my experience, the consumption of processed foods and leading a busy lifestyle can make it very hard to work out what may be causing sickness and/or allergic reactions in our body. You really have to listen to your body and if you find it hard to work out, please see a specialist and get tested.

Food allergy now affects 1 in 10 infants* and about 2 in 100 adults. The most common triggers in childhood are egg, milk, peanut and tree nuts. Other common triggers include fish, shellfish, sesame, soy and wheat. 

Anaphylaxis is a generalised allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to the trigger and can rapidly become life threatening.
HOW TO RECOGNISE A REACTION
Knowing what to look for is very important, especially when it comes to children who may not be able to advocate for themselves when a reaction is occurring. Here are the signs and symptoms to be aware of:
Mild - Moderate Reaction

  • Hives, welts or body redness
  • Swelling of the face, lips, eyes
  • Vomiting, abdominal pain, tingling in the mouth

Severe allergic reaction- ANAPHYLAXIS
  • Difficult/noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (in young children)


COMMON FOOD TRIGGERS OF SEVERE ALLERGIES OR ANAPHYLAXIS
Ninety percent of allergic reactions are caused by: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. However, any food can trigger anaphylaxis. It is important to understand that in some people even very small amounts of food can cause a life-threatening reaction. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A FOOD ALLERGY


A food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When we eat a food containing that protein, our immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms that can affect breathing, one's gastrointestinal tract, skin and/or heart.
Symptoms of food allergy may include; swelling of the lips, face and eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, hives, swelling of the tongue, breathing difficulty, or a sudden drop in blood pressure. If left untreated, these symptoms can be fatal.
Avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent a reaction.
Adrenaline is the first line treatment for severe allergic reactions and can be administered via an autoinjector called the EpiPen® or the Anapen®.
Approximately 10 people die from anaphylactic reactions each year in Australia and some of these may have been triggered by food.

----------------------------------------------------------------


For more information and training check out the below links: 
http://www.allergy.org.au/content/view/41/9/

* Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy
using population-based sampling and predetermined
challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676
Please feel free to share any personal stories you have about food allergies below so we can all be better informed.