Gluten free pear, blueberry and ginger torte

I started working on this cake in mid November, because I reasoned that a torte was something vaguely Christmas related I could post prior to December without being accused of premature Christmas decorating. As my personal luck would have it, my original copy was deleted (why do I insist on typing everything straight into Squarespace? A rough draft would save me so much heartbreak?) and we are now well into acceptable Christmas posting time, and here I am offering a vaguely Christmassy torte. 

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My thoughts on optimal Christmas recipe posting times aside, I think this torte is a winner both because the concept of a torte negates the angst of combining gluten free flours and hoping they will rise, and also because the fruit negates the need for excessive sweetening. Also, does it count towards your two fruit a day? I say yes. Practically a health food.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
3 teaspoons ginger powder (fresh powder is da best)
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt
75g butter
1/2 cup almond milk
2 eggs
2 pears, peeled
1/2 cup blueberries

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal and tapioca flour and set aside.
3. Using your preferred method of melting things (I am a lazy sod, hey microwave) melt the butter. When it is completely melted, add the spices, maple syrup, vanilla bean paste and salt, and stir to combine. 
4. Add the eggs and the almond milk to the flour mixture, followed by the butter mixture (ensuring it is not boiling/has scrambled egg potential) and stir thoroughly to combine.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased, lined, springform tin, and place the pieces of pear into the mixture. Follow this by scattering the bluberries, ensuring they are a little bit pressed into the cake. 
6. Put the cake in the oven for 30+ minutes, or until it is firm when you stick a skewer in it. Allow it to cool a little before running a knife around the edges, removing from the tin and serving. 

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Everything NYC related

So I've done a post on my top 5 favourite places to eat in New York, but for all who have been/are going/have subsequently moved there, you'll know that 5 could never possibly cover the innumerable options available to you on any given street corner. We did our fair share of eating and drinking while we were there, and I figured it made logical sense to use my weight gain and bank account weight loss for the good of someone else too. I've included my top 5 again because I enjoy nostalgic reminiscing, But also for ease of reference when planning your New York eat-athon. Enjoy. 

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A note on where to stay (because I needed this information before I left) - this depends on what you're in New York for, but for eating, and if your trip is long enough, I would recommend a combination of Williamsburg and somewhere in the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village (encompasses West and East Village) Soho or Chelsea. I'm not remotely a neighbourhood expert but every foodie place we went was pretty much in these areas, and having stayed in the Upper East Side before, it was a very refreshing change from all the crowds. 

Cafe Henrie - This was one of my favourite brunches in New York. The interior is super cute, the waitress was bubbly and generally great, they were playing new Frank Ocean and I knew the words which made me feel very cool and relevant, and the breakfast bowl was HEAVEN, as was the acai. I find breakfast bowls of both description can go one of three ways: visually stunning but bland, bland visually but stunning taste wise, or the happy combination of both. These were both. Also, my sister's chai was SPOT. ON. 

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Bluestone Lane Collective - There are a number of these little white and bright cafes dotted around New York, but we stumbled into the Carmine Street location. The menu made us terribly excited, but it is an Australian run cafe, so I am unsure if that is a bit depressing and plebbish of us. Regardless, we got enormous almond milk iced lattes, I had a gluten free donut, and a great time was had by all. The rainbow bowls were nice, but nothing you couldn't whip up yourself. Pick something you couldn't make at home. 

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Babu Ji - Despite being Melbournian, I had no idea that Babu Ji was in fact started in St Kilda, and is also a relative of Horn Please, which is a casual five minute walk from my apartment in Fitzroy. Not knowing this, we were very excited to go, and saved it for the last night, partly because last supper but mostly because we tried a few days earlier and couldn't get in. If you don't do spicy then be very clear on that, as my sister struggled hilariously with dishes that 'aren't that spicy.' The food is lovely though, and lots of options for dietaries. 

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Beauty and Essex - I don't have any photos of this place, as a friend took us there for dinner and, to be honest, I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The menu doesn't look overly gluten free or vegetarian friendly, but they do loads of alterations if you let them know. 2 tips for this place, and I shall say no more: order the peach toast if it's on, and go to the bathroom with a tip handy. 

Happy Bones Coffee - We just got a quick takeaway here on our way to other activities, but it was good, good coffee, and, unlike the 'fancy' coffee places in Melbourne, they happily offer almond milk, without sneering and or/flat out refusing. 

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Butchers Daughter - This one likely needs no introduction, and not to me either, because I ate there a good four times while I was in America (there is one in LA too!) Great with dietaries, so great, in fact, that when I ordered a vegan caesar salad, forgetting, like a true idiot, that breadcrumbs are made of bread, the waitress swapped it for a gluten free version without batting an eyelid. 

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Bocaphe - A lil Vietnamese inspired place right next to Jack's Wife Frieda, for those who are not interested in waiting ten hours for a table. I had the veg noodle salad, made gluten free by using zucchini noodles. I also had a Vietnamese iced coffee which was divine, although it took me a while to figure out how to use the contraption for it. Peak awkward solo traveller. 

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Tacombi - All my photos of Tacombi are rubbish - it was my first day, I was travelling alone at the time, and I am not the sort of person who can spend hours arranging my food whilst in public. If it doesn't work in five minutes, I am both embarrassed and hungry. This was one of those times. Not the best tacos you will ever eat in your life, but nice drinks, super cute decor (at the Bleeker Street venue) and a good option if you stumble upon it. 

Morgensteins Ice Cream - excuse the average night time photo, but I was alone at 9pm on a Saturday, while amazingly sassy youths were dancing to hip hop while waiting for their ice creams, and I was feeling very uncool. Taking photos of a tub of ice cream did not help. I had fresh pistachio and BANANA AGAVE, and it was delighftul. Right down the road from Freeman's alley too, if you are so inclined for gram purposes. 

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By Chloe - Again, apologies for the basic photo, but I had been out walking all day, had queued 30 minutes for this burger, and I was in no mood to be fiddling with things for the sake of an Instagram. THIS WAS SO GOOD. Worth the low blood sugar 30 minute wait. Everything is vegan, although you would never guess, and I imagine they've had pretty much every dietary thrown at them. I had a black bean burger on a gluten free bun, and it was honestly one of the best burgers I've ever had. The accompanying pink lemonade - with a hit of fresh ginger - hit the spot big time. 

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Dessert By Chloe - If you're in the hood, and by the hood I mean the Bleeker Street By Chloe, I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave without having purchased something from the Dessert By Chloe shop next door. All vegan, with gluten free options for those of you interested. Mine was so rich I thought I couldn't finish it, and then I got back to the hotel and immediately stuffed the rest in my mouth.

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Egg Shop - Egg Shop is an example of how to do a bowl of veg and eggs well. They're pretty simple menu options, but of four people at brunch, none of us could stop raving about how good our own bowl was. I tried two bowls (the perks of travelling with a vegetarian sister) and they were both spot on. As were the coffees. As is the exterior. As is the fact they serve hard cocktails at lunch. 

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Milk Bar Store - I think this is just one of those things you have to do in New York. Sadly, for the gluten free among us, the 'cereal' flavour is not an option, but they do have a gluten free cola flavour with rainbow sprinkles, so you won't miss out entirely. We went to the Lower East Side store/hole in the wall, but our native New Yorker friend told us that the Momofuku ramen store with a Milk Bar attached is a gorgeous sight, so I'd suggest going to that one instead. 

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Gotan Brooklyn - There are a bunch of these sprinkled around Manhattan, but I stumbled into the Brooklyn venue after getting in at midnight the night before. The acai bowl was delicious, although being altered to be gf made it 'for my eyes only' type of meal, but I dragged my sister back when she arrived, and had an excellent special. Doesn't look like much, but every element was lovely. Here's a photo of my Instagram husband struggling with all the miscellaneous pieces she had to hold. 

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Goa Taco - We discovered this place on Uber Eats before we actually discovered it, perusing Uber Eats for cultural research reasons only, of course... After our initial dinner place fell through (closed on Mondays, wah) we found ourseleves at Goa Taco, which is absolutely tiny, particularly when there's four of you. Can't speak for my travel companions, but it was the best fallback meal I've ever had. They serve paratha tacos with Indian inspired fillings - plenty of veg options, and if you're gluten free they create a little salad bowl with the taco filling. SO GOOD.

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Cheese Grille - I mean it's kind of laughable that one of my favourite places to eat was a grilled cheese sandwich shop, but really. The Mediterranean (basil, two cheeses, tomato and truffle oil) on gluten free bread was the highlight of my day on about three different days. I had no time for taking photos, only for devouring. 

BARS

Sixty Lower East Side Rooftop - We stayed at Sixty Hotel on the Lower East Side, and for a few days we didn't bother to check out the bar (instead becoming obsessed with Law And Order because we're wild) but we were certainly glad we eventually did. One of the nicest, most unimpeded views of the city that I came across in Manhattan. Absolutely delightful, and I hear the view from their Soho hotel is just as good. 

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Mr Purple - This bar was so great that we ended up coming back twice in two days. In a manner similar to The High Line bar, the view is (I assume) what most people go for - however the difference is a) there's a pool, b) it's table service (outside at least) and c) the cocktails are not premixed. It's more chill, there's less of a touristy crowd and you can see The Chrysler Building and all the other heavyweight sights while you sip on an old fashioned and feel v haughty and posh. 

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The High Line at The Standard - I assume this is a trendy place to be seen, because it was absolutely packed when we rocked up for sunset. The drinks are average, the lines are huge, and there are a decent proportion of wanky individuals around. However, the view itself, particularly at sunset and in nice weather, is more than worth having tourists elbow you out of the way so they can get selfies while seductively draping an American flag around their shoulders. 

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Wythe Hotel - Post Smorgasburg, on basically the only rainy day we had, we decided to go and day drink at The Wythe, which was an excellent choice. I had too many cocktails then I care to admit for a daytime venture, and we managed to snag a window seat, entirely by accident, with panoramic views of Manhattan. Which, by the way, do not get old regardless of how many rooftop bars you sit in. 

Loopy Doopy - Three words. Icypoles in Prosecco. Potentially not as attractive for winter visitors, but they were a real treat in the sunshine when I was there. A bit of a trek away, in the financial district, but worth stopping in if you're in the vicinity. 

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Mace - A trendy little hole in the wall with the most interest cocktail list I've ever seen. I had a 'black sesame' cocktail, which was pretty much a creamy, sesame-y, alcoholic milkshake. Heaven. Pictured is my sister's drink, which had something to do with bananas and cinnamon. She wouldn't let me drink much of it. 

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TOURISTY THINGS WORTH DOING

Top of The Rock (Or observation deck) - no explanation needed, but just a reiteration that it's worth doing. 

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Cycle around Central Park - This one is weather dependent, but Central Park obviously must be involved in your trip in some form. We walked back via Fifth Avenue, were overwhelmed by both the amount of people and the scent of weed, and were happy to retreat back to Greenwich village domain, but it must be done all the same. 

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The High Line - At the end of the day, it's really just a leafy walk over New York Streets, but it's a pretty cool fusion of city and nature, and there are some cityscapes to be found. Plus it strays very close to Chelsea Markets, among other things, and you can kill two birds with one stone. 

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and sit in DUMBO park - This walk was absolutely lovely and I would recommend it to anyone. Brooklyn Bridge is iconic, and Dumbo offers some stunning views of both Manhattan and of the bridge from a different vantage point. We also walked through Brooklyn Heights to get the subway back to Manhattan, and that was a sight in itself. For whatever reason the name Brooklyn Heights didn't suggest idyllic street settings to me, but I stood corrected, as happens most days of my life. 

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Smorgasburg - You've undoubtedly heard of the weekend food market in Brooklyn by the water, set in front of an astounding view of Manhattan and Manhattan Bridge. While I didn't find too many options for a gf pescetarian/I had a mild hangover and thus finite patience, but I did find these hand cut truffle potato chips with what I believe was lemon aioli, and that made hungover interactions with others worth my time. Definitely go and check it out. 

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Grilled zucchini, haloumi, dill and caper salad

I've dropped the blogging ball in recent times, and there's a few reasons for that. Whether or not you're interested, I'm going to delve into them now. Sorry.

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Firstly, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen me frolicking around Mexico, drinking too many cocktails during the day, and generally disregarding most of my adult responsibilities. When you're 3 margaritas deep at 2.30pm, blogging is definitely an adult responsibility. 

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The other reason, one that many of you might be able to relate to, is that I have been entirely burnt out by the never ending creative work that comes with Instagramming and blogging. I think there's been an enormous shift in the world of Instagram of late, one which has left me quite unmotivated and a lil bit disillusioned. What was once a domain for sharing in the minute accounts of daily life, and creating communities around common interests, seems now to be a competition as to who can include the most edible flowers on their plate, or who can pull off the avocado flower with the most finesse. 

Don't get me wrong, I love edible flowers (avocado and otherwise) as much as the next person, I really do. I get a small jolt of excitement when I sprinkle them atop something, taking it from 5/10 to 7.9/10 with good lighting (something fake tan does for me on a personal level)  But I can't help feeling nostalgic for the glory days of Instagram, where we were all so excited about sharing what we were eating in the moment that professional photography, lighting, and a fruit platter with ten different exotic fruits, captioned as 'a quick breakfast', didn't even enter into it.

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It has taken me some time with my heart completely not in it, some midday margaritas and some edible flower dalliances to come to a conclusion that should be innate, but apparently is no longer so: food doesn't need to be stunning 24/7. Not everything needs edible flowers. Everybody eats ugly food, whether or not their Instagram account admits to it. And with this revolutionary epiphany that I'm surely the first person to experience, my inspiration to create things has returned. Sometimes ugly. Sometimes with edible flowers involved. 

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FOR THE SALAD:
4 zucchinis, sliced lengthways in a medium thinness
1 block of haloumi, cubed (normally 180g but who would say no to extra haloumi ammirite)
1 tablespoon of capers
1 medium handful of dill (depends how much you are obsessed with dill, so for me, 1000 handfuls)
grated lemon zest, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:
3 tablespoons olive oil
10g dill, chopped (a small handful)
1/2 lemon juice
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 bruised clove of garlic

METHOD

1. Using your weapon of choice for grilling (I use and am mildly obsessed with a sandwich press for said purpose - whack some baking paper and some olive oil spray on and your zucchini will be golden before you can say 'but isn't that just for making toasted sandwiches?')
2. Once you have grilled all da zucchini, set it aside with a sprinkle of salt on top. Grab a pan, and heat the hotplate to a medium high heat. Once it's ready to go, add a light spray of olive oil and throw in 1/4 or so of the haloumi. Because you're browning cubes of it, it's easier to keep an eye on with smaller quantities. If you consider yourself a non haloumi burning ninja, then go right ahead and cook it all at once. 
3. In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients for the dressing, and turn the heat to medium. Cook gently for about 10-15 minutes, until it starts to become fragrant, with refined notes and undertones of dill and garlic. Or something. 
4. Take the dressing off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Assemble your zucchini and haloumi on a decorative plate of choice (see above rant on Instagram these days) and sprinkle with the dill and capers. Top with a drizzle of the dressing, and finish with the freshly grated lemon zest. 
 

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Georgeats New York City

If you follow me on ye olde gram, you may be aware that I recently visited New York and am subsequently low key obsessed with it. Despite having an enormous list of foodie places to hit up, many of the places we ultimately ended up loving were suggestions from friends, strangers on the street, or happy accidents as a result of one too many margaritas and an impatience for walking to our next destination. We spent the majority of our time in New York staying in the Lower East Side (LES if you fancy sounding like a local/I can't guarantee locals call it this) at Sixty Hotel, which was a walking or biking distance from basically all our favourite places, particularly considering the gorgeous weather we had throughout the duration of our stay.

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I ate at so many places that my emergency fat jeans I packed are now just 'my jeans' but here are my top five places to eat in New York, in no particular order: 

Cheese Grille

We visited this little grilled cheese sandwich shop in Lower East Side (essentially next door to Sixty Hotel) so many times we were actually embarrassed each time we returned. The owner even confirmed our fears by mentioning that he started recognising us after a few return trips. They have gluten free bread (Yay/did not expect) and the most divine 'Mediterranean' toastie, with two types of cheese, basil, tomato and truffle oil. This would absolutely be my pick - although I never bothered to try anything else, my sister did, and she promptly returned to ordering the Mediterranean. Lesson to be learned? Trying new things is a terrible idea. We had every intention of also trying the banana and nutella toastie (fourth time is a charm, ammirite guys?) but unfortunately our eyes are (or were, before all the eating) quadriple the size of our stomaches. Unfortunately we didn't stop at any point to take a photo of our grilled cheeses because they were actually that good, but trust me on this one. 

Cafe Henrie

This cute little retro cafe was one of my favourite meals in NYC. The shop itself is small and retro, with brightly coloured tables alternating in blue or pink. Some may also call this an Instagrammers dream. Although the decor was a winner, the food was even better. I ordered the rainbow bowl with mixed grains (gluten free as it's quinoa and rice in coconut milk) and my sister had the acai bowl with a chai latte. The benefit of having a sister is that I get to try two meals for one, and I certainly took advantage of that in this instance. I am pleased to report both options were equally heavenly. 

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Goa Taco

We discovered this by happy accident, as (being the sloths we are) we had been perusing Uber Eats (only out of curiousity, I swear...) and were intrigued by the concept of Indian style tacos wrapped in paratha. After an embarrassing desire to appear knowledgeable when taking friends out for dinner, and inadvertently taking them halfway across the city to a place closed on Mondays, Goa Taco became our fallback plan, and one that we did not regret. As with every place I went in NYC, Goa Taco was super accomodating in regards to gluten free, and made my taco into a salad bowl topped with corn chips. I had the paneer cheese, spinach pesto, garam masala fried chickpea and tomatillo taco (yes I am reading off the website because it was so good and I had a margarita beforehand and got lost in the moment) and it was honestly one of my favourite meals of the entire trip. 

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Egg Shop

After a few failed attempts of getting here (being unaware of a long weekend is not a hot tip) we finally made it and had no ragrets. I had something called a Spandex which I remember because I was a bit embarrassed to ask my attractive waiter for a Spandex. It certainly helped I had had an extra large glass of prosecco before doing so.  The Spandex was essentially a light bowl of vibrantly dressed vegetables and pickles and yes, you guessed it, eggs! At Egg Shop! Crazy!  But in all seriousness it was delicious, and so was the Indian style one my sister ordered, and so were the almond milk iced lattes. All round winner for a lighter, healthy lunch. 

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By Chloe

By Chloe is an entirely vegan 'fast food' place that will change the way you think about vegan food, I promise. I myself am not a vegan, but I ordered the black bean and avo burger (on a gluten free bun, which was a lot better than your average gf bread) and I honestly felt like I was having a sinfully delicious (to excuse my Will and Grace reference for the die hards) Maccas burger, in the absolute best sense. It tasted delightfully junk like, yet was filled with interesting and exciting flavours that gave it depth no Maccas burger could achieve. I would also recommend the sweet potato fries and the pink lemonade, because damn. If you happen to go to the Bleeker Street establishment and brave the queue, you can reward yourself with a cake from the By Chloe cake store next door - this one below is both vegan and gluten free (!!) and tasted like none of the above. So good. 

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Gluten free rhubarb, lemon zest and blueberry muffins

I don't really have an interesting story for these muffins. I did have a slightly more interesting one than this, but on clicking 'save and publish' last night, said story self destructed, leaving me wondering how on earth I was planning to rewrite all that hilarious commentary on muffins. 

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The gist of my inspiration is this: I had brunch with a girlfriend over the weekend who was eyeing off the counter muffins like they were going out of style. As she suggested she intended to eat both a full brunch and a full muffin, I fondly remembered the days in which I could devour a huge sugar coated muffin without needing to schedule in a foetal nap afterwards. The glory days.

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These muffins are devoid of gluten, grains and refined sugar, and are a lower FODMAP option, excepting the maple syrup and the tapioca flour, of which there is minimal. While I've been out of the game for a while, I don't even think these taste like gluten free, refined sugar free muffins. My Mum agrees, so that really settles the matter.

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 tablespoons maple syrup
50g butter
2 generous tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used both cow and almond to success)
2 stalks of rhubarb (roughly 100g)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, tapioca flour and lemon zest.
3. Melt the butter any way you choose (I chose microwave because I am the embodiment of lazy) and, once melted, add the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla bean extract and salt. Mix well, and then add the milk. Mix again. 
4. Crack your eggs into the flour mix, and follow them with the butter mix, which has hopefully cooled down completely. Stir everything up until you have created a batter, and then add in the blueberries and rhubarb. 
5. Add the baking powder, followed by the apple cider vinegar, and stir the bubbles through once they begin to subside. 
6. Thoroughly grease your muffin tin (I used a silicion 6 hole standard sized muffin tin) with butter. You can use whatever but I truly believe butter is the best for greasing. 
7. Fill the muffins to the absolute brim (I was going for the oversized cafe muffin vibe here) and pop them in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave them to cool a lil before gently coercing them out of their muffin holes. Voila, the cafe muffin you always wanted but were never able to eat. 

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Gluten free double chocolate, sea salt and pistachio cookie ice cream sandwiches

I did try to condense the title of this one, but it's the most succinct way I could think to include all the main topic points (ie delicious points) into once sentence. Please excuse me. 

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I had been dabbling with the gluten free cookie for a while when, the very night I made the successful batch, I attended an event at which I was given a tub of ridiculously decadent, local Melbournian chocolate ice cream. I don't know about your stance on fate and destiny, but I truly believe some higher power wanted me to make ice cream sandwiches. Ice cream sandwiches seem like the sort of thing God supposedly intervenes in. 

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup brown sugar
150g butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to top the cookies
3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill all purpose mix)
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
30g dark chocolate, chopped
30g pistachios, chopped
Whatever icecream you fancy, and lots of it (note: making the cookies without the ice cream is acceptable but frowned upon)

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METHOD:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Using a hand beater or Kitchen Aid if you're lazy/lucky that your Mum owns one like me, beat the butter and sugar until it becomes light and creamy. Add the eggs and then the flour, cacao, almond meal, baking powder and vanilla bean extract, and mix until a lovely cookie dough forms. 
3. Mix in the chopped dark chocolate and pistachios, and pop the dough into the fridge for at least 10 minutes - more in a hot climate. I left mine for an hour or so - It makes them super easy to roll with your hands.
4. Line two baking trays with baking paper, and divide the cookie dough into 12 or so little balls. Press them down to create a cookie shape, and spray with a lil olive oil before sprinkling with sea salt. 
5. Pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and allow to cool completely, before extremely generously scooping enormous scoops of icecream in between two cookies. 

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Goats cheese, basil and tomato tart with a brown rice chip crust

TOMATO, BASIL AND CHEESE TART WITH A BROWN RICE CHIP CRUST

Since I started cooking as a (semi) adult, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with tarts. There’s something so alluring (apparently I don’t get out much) about combing all the different facets of a meal into one singular, cheesy morsel of delicious.

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I’ve made many tarts in my time, but sometimes I will admit that I would rather chew off my thumb than fiddle around with different flours and meals, pressing and prodding, blind baking and re-baking. The lengthy process of it all is almost enough to put me off the magnificent meal that is the humble tart, and roast veg smothered in cheese, while delicious, is not quite on that other level. 

Working with my pals at SunRice again, I decided to make a tart crust out of their brown rice chips. While I experimented with the sea salt and the wild rice varietals, I daresay the parmesan and tomato ones would make for a particularly delicious tart crust. If delicious doesn’t win you over, then hear this: the crust takes 2 minutes to create in a food processor, and doesn’t even need blind baking. All in all, preparation of the tart takes around 10 minutes. YAS.

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INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TART BASE:

2 packets of Sunrice Brown Rice Chips
3 medium-large eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

FOR THE FILLING:

500g firm deli Ricotta
1 cup milk of choice (I used Cow's milk)
100g goats cheese
50g freshly grated Parmesan
1 large bunch of basil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1 egg
1 bunch vine ripened cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to season

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta, salt and pepper, and milk, and stir to combine. Leave this to sit.
3. In your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the tart base until they have combined. Add a little bit of water if you think you need it.
4. Spray your circular tart tin with generous olive oil, and gently press the tart mixture into the tin. Don’t press the fluted edges too firmly, or else it will be difficult to remove.
5. Once this is done, set any leftovers aside to sprinkle over the tart before cooking.
6. Stir your Ricotta and milk mixture, which should have become more yoghurt like in consistency. Add in your egg, goats cheese and parmesan, and stir thoroughly. Finally, add about ¾ of your chopped basil, and the balsamic vinegar.
7. Pour the cheese mixture into the tart tin, and top with the vine ripened tomatoes, on the vine (this is optional but aesthetically pleasing!)
8. Spray your tomatoes gently with some olive oil, and top the tart with a bit of extra grated parmesan.
9. Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and well browned. You can place it under the grill for a few minutes to grill the cheese nicely at the end.
10. Top with the remaining basil, and a sprinkle of Balsamic if you fancy. Easy tarts, my favourite kind. 

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Save The Children Syria Appeal e-book

This post is a little different today, but I promise I'm not boring you without a good reason, so pls bare with me. With all the terrible events that seem to be going on in the world right now, it struck me last year that I am incredibly lucky to be in the place that I am in life, both geographically and otherwise, and how I really should be doing something with that relative affluence I have been given.

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I don't mean affluence in a wanky way, like a 'getting gold fillings for fun' or 'bathing in Dom because I can' type stuff. I grew up in a loving, supportive household, in a safe, democratic country. I can pay my own rent, and I have enough of an income that I can buy myself trinkets, get my nails done, and buy myself zucchini flowers just because they're pretty. In the scheme of things, I am affluent, and I am lucky.

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So I decided to use my love of food and cooking for good, and that's why I created an e-book. The e-book has 12 recipes, all vegetarian and gluten free. 100% of the profits made are being donated to Save The Children's Syrian appeal. Syrian Children have not had the same luck as I have had. Born in a war torn, devastated country, they don't have the same opportunity to experience a great childhood, an education, and a chance to do whatever they want in life. 

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Recipes in the e-book range from satay tofu burgers, to a salted banana and Nutella tart, to the least shit chia pudding you will have in a long time. There are three breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts, all of which I make and eat at home on the regular. It retails for $14.99AUD, and 100% of that money is being donated to Save The Children's Syrian Appeal.

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Even if you think that I'm boring and rubbish and terrible, by buying the e-book you'll be donating to an extremely worthy cause. As a part of a society that has everything we need to survive and flourish, I think it is our responsibility to help those who might not. 

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You can purchase the e-book through the link on my website page here, and I really hope you do. 

Green Kitchen Stories Q&A + recipe: Rosehip 'Affogato' with Crumbled 'Amaretti'

Excuse me while I have a minor fangirl moment, but today's blog post/recipe will be less of my irrelevant ramblings/complaints and more about the life goals duo that is Green Kitchen Stories. To celebrate the release of their new book, Green Kitchen Smoothies, I asked them a few questions re: all things GKS, and they've kindly given us a sneak peak into the book with a recipe for a Rosehip 'Affogato' with Crumbled 'Amaretti.' I could say more, but I did promise less irrelevant rambling, so I'll rein myself in on this special occasion. 

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Apart from your camera, what is your number one must have for food photography? 

Good light. It’s really that simple. Just staying close to a window with indirect light or bringing the food outdoors is the best way to bring out the natural colour of all food. It also helps if whatever your shooting is colourful and pretty. Stews are always difficult.

What does an average day look like in the GKS household?

It depends on what projects we are working with. If we are working on a cookbook, we are usually either sucked into a recipe testing frenzy or have long days of photo shoots. We should probably set off more time to answer emails since we are so insanely far behind on that (currently 1766 unread emails), but it’s just so much more fun to be working with food than with the computer.

Do you have a favourite recipe in the new book?

It’s difficult to only choose one when you’ve put so much effort into all of them, so here are our three favourites.

First the Super Berry & Fennel Smoothie. It’s a simple smoothie recipe filled with berries, which is one of our favourite ingredients. It’s not too sweet either, with avocado instead of the usual banana. It has a touch of liquorice from the fennel that goes perfectly with the fresh berry flavour. 

But I also love all our show-stopping smoothies in the book, so my other favourite is the Mango & Chia Parfait. It is a beautifully layered chia pudding with fresh passion fruit combined with a mango, ginger and buckwheat smoothie. It’s definitely more tropical than the berry smoothie and therefore they complement each other really well.

The third one is Nuts & Blues. It’s a simple and creamy smoothie that we often make after dinner as a weekday dessert. A blend of bananas, avocado, nut butter, cacao powder and plant milk is poured over mashed wild blueberries. The flavour is amazing when the nutty sweetness meets the blueberries and it also looks spectacular as the blueberries paint blue patterns in the smoothie.

Which GKS recipes are in high rotation at your place?

We are all big fans of this Cauliflower Pizza in our family. These Spinach & Quinoa Patties are also often on rotation. And the kids love crêpes so we do Spinach Crêpes with various fillings quite regularly.

Favourite lens for food photography?

I love my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. It captures the yummiest part of the food and blurs out everything else beautifully. The 50 mm lens is essential for all shots from above.

Will we be seeing any more big trips for GKS?

We are working on another ”big book” and we are also expecting our third child in October so at the moment we’re trying to focus on that. But when book and baby is ready, we are talking about going on new adventures. We want to see more of Australia and we’ll definitely try to include that in our plans. 

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Rosehip ‘Affogato’ with Crumbled ‘Amaretti’

Serves 2 or 1 large serving

This is a slight deviation from a smoothie as we don’t even use a blender, but it’s a drink we used to have growing up, so we just couldn’t leave it out. Rosehips are a true Scandinavian superfood with a unique flavour. They are packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and are known to reduce pain and improve movement for arthritis sufferers.
Luise’s 84-year-old grandpa has been adding a tablespoon to his porridge for decades and he swears by it.

In Sweden, rosehip powder is sold in supermarkets and health food stores; however, if you live in another country, you can always find it online. You can drink this cold; in fact, rosehip soup is an excellent base in smoothies. Here, however, we serve it exactly how I remember it from my childhood – hot, poured over a dollop of ice cream (or Greek yoghurt) and topped with crushed biscuits.

For the Date ‘Amaretti’

4–5 soft dates, pitted
90 g (3¼ oz/¾ cup) ground almonds (or almond flour)
60 ml (2 oz/¼ cup) almond milk

 For the Rosehip Soup

40 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) rosehip powder
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or potato starch)
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

To Serve
vanilla ice cream (ordinary or vegan)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients for the date ‘amaretti’ in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Alternatively, put the dates in a bowl and mash them with a fork until they form a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more dates if necessary. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into about 2 cm (¾ in) diameter rounds, like amaretti biscuits (Italian macaroons). Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rosehip soup.

Put the rosehip powder in a saucepan along with the arrowroot and water. Bring to the boil, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat, whisk in the maple syrup and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until a smooth syrup forms, before removing from the heat. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to get it completely smooth.

To assemble, spoon a scoop of vanilla ice cream into the base of two medium-sized glass jars or bowls, or in a large jar (as featured in the photo), and pour over the rosehip soup. Finish with a sprinkling of crumbled ‘amaretti’ and some extra ice cream on top for the sweet-toothed. Serve straight away before it comes running down the
glass jar!

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If you want to get your hands on some more of the Green Kitchen Smoothies recipes by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl, (published by Hardie Grant Books) they are available to snap up now where all good books are sold. This one above is the 'Nuts n Blues.' <3

Gluten free, intolerance friendly chocolate cake with easy vegan chocolate icing

As someone who is currently on an elimination diet/whose life for the past 4 years seems to have been one big elimination diet,  I have developed an acute awareness of, and sympathy for, those who walk among us who cannot just eat whatever is put in front of them. When It gets to a point where it's easier to answer the question 'what can you eat?' rather than 'what can't you eat?', you know you're part of a unique and somewhat crappy club, one that people don't always take very seriously. It seems to me that people think of an intolerances as an allergy's weaker cousin, a cousin prone to dramatisation and embellishment of stories. I can personally attest to the fact that this is not quite true. While intolerances aren't life threatening, they can put you in bed for a good couple of not so good days. 

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With all that in mind, I wanted to make a chocolate cake that was delicious, but also a friendly treat for those of us who want to treat themselves without needing to go foetal after. This cake is gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free and dairy free, and the icing component is all these things in addition to being vegan. If you're on a strict elimination diet, substitute the maple for whatever sweetener is permissable for you. I opted for maple because I decided to live on the wild side. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
8 tablespoons cacao powder
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teapoons apple cider vinegar

ICING

1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Generous pinch of salt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond milk

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, cacao and salt. Add the eggs, almond milk, vanilla bean paste and maple syrup, and stir until well combined. Next add the coconut oil, and continue to stir the mixture until everything has been incorporated. Finally, add the baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and mix the bubbles through. 
3. Grease your silicon loaf pan (apparently there's no need to do this, but I always it 10x easier to remove if I do) and pour the mixture in. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
4. When the cake is nearly ready, melt the coconut oil and almond butter together to make the icing. You can do this in a small pot or in the microwave. Add the maple syrup (stevia drops work well if you're avoiding all sugars) salt and vanilla bean paste, and mix well. Add the almond milk, and an icing consistency should form. Set aside.
5. Once you've checked the cake is done, leave it to cool before removing gently from the loaf pan, and slathering with icing. Yes. 

 

 

Sweet potato green Thai curry

I've been sitting at my laptop for about fifteen minutes now, writing and deleting various descriptives of green Thai curry. I feel that herein lies the true description of my love for it; that I cannot possibly put it into coherent sentences. The profound depth and intensity of my green Thai curry feels is also a dire insight into my love life/distinct lack thereof, but that's a story for another time, ie after a few wines and in a journal that I will subsequently burn or drown through fierce embarrassment. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
2-3 teaspoons green Thai curry paste (Mae Ploy is my must have)
40g ginger, grated (pls don't make me specify fresh)
1/2 grated kaffir lime
2 cans of coconut milk (I accidentally used one coconut cream, life did not end)
Juice of 1/2 large lime, or a whole small one
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter
1 bunch of bok choi (by bunch I mean the little bundle of 3 you get at the shops, can't think of a more succinct way of saying it) 
Sriracha, to taste
Coriander, lime and chilli, to serve
Peanut oil, for cooking
Salt and pepper

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METHOD

1. In a large pot, add a good glug of peanut oil and turn the pot on to a medium heat. Add the green Thai curry paste, ginger (you can add some garlic too if you fancy) and cubed sweet potatoes, and stir intermittently for about 10 minutes, or until the cubes have begun to cook through. 
2. Add the grated kaffir lime, brown sugar, and stir through. Follow this up with the coconut milk, peanut butter, salt and pepper and lime juice, and stir well. Pop a lid on, turn to a low-medium heat and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely cooked. Try not to stir it too often or the cubes will become mush. Delicious mush, but mush all the same. You can add some tofu here if you fancy beefing it up, if you'll excuse the terminology. Add the bok choi and half the bunch of coriander, and cook for another five or so minutes, until they're cooked. 
3. Divide into four bowls, and serve with extra coriander, chilli and lime wedges. 

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Gluten free peanut butter donuts with choc-peanut butter icing

Yes, it happened. I fell victim to the marketing ploy that was 'national donut day.' May I just note that America seemed to be in on the game as well, making it more of an international event. Perhaps the donut vendors of the world should have gotten together to solidify the plans. 

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Marketing strategies aside, I too jumped on the bandwagon with these peanut butter donuts, and normally I would scold myself for being sucked in, but it's kind of hard to do that when your kitchen is full of donuts. On that topic: they are much better if you eat them on the day, or zap them in the microwave before eating leftover ones, as they tend to harden up over time. 

Please also note that I didn't get sucked in quite enough/wasn't organised enough to post this recipe before the actual 'donut day' itself. Small victories. 

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INGREDIENTS - makes 9 donuts 

DONUTS
1 cup arrowroot flour (also called Tapioca, easily found in the supermarket or bulk store)
1 1/2 cup almond meal
3 heaped tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter (I used Ridiculously Delicious)
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

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FOR THE ICING:
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons natural smooth peanut butter (again, I used Ridiculously Delicious)
1 teaspoon maple syrup, or a few drops of liquid stevia (both work)
freeze dried raspberries, if ya feelin' fancy

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond meal and tapioca flour. Add in the eggs, peanut butter, cinnamon and nutmeg, milk and salt, and mix well. Once combined, add the maple syrup and coconut oil, and finally the baking powder and apple cider vinegar. Stir in the bubbles and set aside. 
3. Time to grease your donut pan. I find butter by far the best at greasing the pan and actually allowing me to remove the donuts with minimal stress crying and sweaty upper lip. Your call on what you use, but don't say I didn't warn you.
4. Pop the donuts into the oven for 15 minutes. You could even suss them out at 12-13 minutes. 
5. While that's happening, use a medium bowl to mix together your coconut oil, peanut butter and sweetener of choice to make your icing.
6. Take the donuts out and allow them to cool before icing. To ice, I found the easiest method was simply to dunk them in the bowl. Top with fancy toppings and enjoy. And remember: give them a zap if you're eating them in the following days, otherwise you'll be eating rocks and hating on me. 


 

No frills gluten free banana bread with coconut and passionfruit icing

I think it's fairly universally accepted that everybody loves banana bread. Although I (obviously) include myself in this category, I despise the fact that I wind up feeling like I need to do more than a few sit ups after I eat it (I never do the sit ups, but I do tell myself they might be a wise idea.)

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I fiddled around for a while with this recipe, and I'm finally happy with it. Embarrassingly simple, devoid of many unnecessary ingredients, and free of post consumption sit up guilt, relative to some other options out there in the big bad world. I started with sour cream icing, and that tasted a bit like a really odd burrito, so now I've gone with coconut yoghurt, which is dreamy with both banana and passionfruit. Your icing, however, is your prerogative. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 LAAARGE and in charge super ripe bananas, or 3 small ones
1 egg
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3 tablespoons potato flour (Arrowroot would probably work too)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 cup milk of choice (I've tried with regular and almond to success)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on the ripeness of your bananas, it works with just 1 tablespoon too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 

1/2 cup unflavoured coconut yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 passionfruits

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In your food processor, throw in errything except the baking powder and vinegar. Process until smooth, and then add the baking powder and vinegar, stirring in thoroughly. Transfer to a silicon loaf tin (I had way more success getting it out of the tin when I greased it with butter, even though somebody told me you're not supposed to do this with silicon. I break the rulez)
3. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour/an hour and ten. Each loaf seems to have its own unique personality (although this may be my crap bomb of an oven) - check it and be the judge. 
4. Allow to cool before removing and serving, this will save you many headaches, I promise. The crest of the loaf will fall, but what matters is what is on the inside, ammirite? 
5. Once cool, mix together the coconut yoghurt, vanilla bean and maple. I tried to put mine in the freezer to harden it up a bit but to no avail. Perhaps a teaspoon of coconut oil would assist in this, if you're after aesthetic values. If not, no worries. Top with the passionfruit and eat. 

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Smokey black bean and lime nachos with brown rice chips

I think nachos are probably one of my all time favourite foods, although my Mum will never forgive me for saying so. They’re so outrageously versatile that there truly is a nacho for every occasion. The cheesy, tex-mex variety for a Sunday hangover or a movie night, or the raw varieties for after you’ve been for a walk in your active wear and feel like you’re an unstoppable health God. Then there are the vegan sort, pioneered in my very biased opinion by Vegie Bar in Melbourne, or the fresher, lime and coriander type, that almost find a happy middle ground.  So in summary, I’ve just described pretty much every type of nacho, and nobody can ever doubt my nacho love and credibility ever again.

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Over the past year I’ve had to become increasingly aware of what I’m eating, thanks but no thanks to a condition called SIBO, in which bacteria gatecrashes your small intestine, steals food and nutrients that happens to float by, and wreaks havoc on your digestion as a result.

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I’ve had to do some experimenting and eliminating as to what works for me, and was a tiny bit devastated to learn that corn is no good for a gal like me, at least for the time being. Refer to my in depth description of nachos if my corn related sadness confuses you. So, when SunRice asked if I would like to develop a recipe for them featuring their corn chip style brown rice chips, I was rather happy to jump on board. Nachos forever. 

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INGREDIENTS
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
425g tin black beans, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
Generous sea salt and pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly brewed espresso
1 teaspoon cacao powder
Zest of ½-1 lime
Juice of ½-1 lime (adjust to your limey taste)
2 bags of SunRice brown rice chips (I used one sea salt and one Tomato and Parmesan – they taste just like cheesy corn chips)

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TOPPINGS
Freshly grated good quality cheddar
Small handful of chopped cherry tomatoes
Small handful of coriander
1 or 2 limes, chopped
Chopped green or red (or green and red) chilli
Sour cream
Avocado

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil, chopped Roma tomatoes, sea salt, pepper, brown sugar, lime zest and spices, and cook over a medium heat until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape and become saucy.  You can add a splash of water if you feel it’s necessary.
3. Add the beans to the mix, and stir well to combine. Add the cacao, espresso, and lime juice, continuing to stir. Leave the mix to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
4. While the beans are cooking, arrange your brown rice chips in a casserole dish (should be called nacho dish ammirite) and begin to sort out your toppings. Cheese is the only strictly necessary topping here (I would argue the case for sour cream but it’s not 100% essential as cheese is) – use whatever you enjoy, because nachos are to be wholly enjoyed.
5. Take the beans off the heat and pour them over the centre of your assembled chips. Top this with a generous amount of freshly grated cheddar (pls no pre-bagged nonsense) and pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Keep watching them, chips are fragile entities and nothing is more devastating than burnt nachos. Nothing.
6. Once the cheese is super melty, take them out of the oven, and top with your preferred choice of toppings. Now eat them all in one sitting. 

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Gluten free salted espresso and blueberry brownies

I think the brownie has to be one of the most universally loved sweet foods. Ok, well maybe not universally. And maybe not, because I haven't done any research on the topic. All I know is that everybody I have brunched with swoons at the sight of brownies in the little cabinet next to the coffee machine. Does that count as empirical data? I vote yes. 

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Sometimes I feel like people are lying to me when they say that the healthy counterpart of a traditionally flour and sugar laden dessert 'tastes the same.' Please don't try and tell me that this raw Oreo tastes like a normal one. That is a flat out lie. That being said, I think healthified brownies CAN be the exception to the rule. They don't actually need the horrendous amount of sugar (in pure and chocolate form) and butter and flour that is in them. It's not necessary, and if you're anything like me, the guilt and ill health post brownie consumption borderline outweighs the joy of eating it in the first place. 

These ones are gluten free, have barely any refined sugar (excepting the chocolate, although you could use unsweetened choc if you're hardcore) and have a bit of protein and good fat from the almond meal, a bit of caffeine for life, and then the antioxidants related to the cacao and blueberries. Great. 

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond meal
½ cup cacao powder
100g butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoon strong espresso
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ cup blueberries 

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and turn the stove onto a medium heat. Pop a medium sized saucepan on, half filled with water, and a steel bowl atop that, making sure the water doesn't touch the bowl. Double boiler style. Add the chocolate chips and the butter, and melt.
2. When the chocolate butter is melted, take it off the heat and stir in the espresso, cacao, salt, maple syrup and the almond meal. Follow this with the vanilla extract and milk, and finally, when you're sure you won't scramble them, the eggs. 
3. Gently mix in the blueberries, and then pour the brownie mixture into a well greased tin. You might want to line the base of it, just in case. Leave the brownies in for around 20-30 minutes, depending on how squishy you like your brownies. Done!

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Zucchini, haloumi, mint and preserved lemon fritters

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and with all my fun little food intolerances of late, I've been looking into and attempting to consider elements of the GAPS diet. I haven't been following it intensely (because life) but there have been a few take home tips that I've incorporated into my diet, one of those being the humble zucchini fritter.

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The basic version I sometimes make in the morning entails naught but grated zucchini, almond meal, sea salt and organic eggs, mixed together and cooked in ghee. This sounds horrendously bland to most people, but when I can eat something and I don't feel like a balloon/vomiting/exploding, I know I'm onto a good thing.

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The suggestion by a friend that my fritters needed cheese in them (said with a look of disgust after I expressed my excitement at going home to eat the plain versions after our morning walk) is in fact the inspiration for these fritters. As I have always said, cheese makes most things better, and I've found that I tolerate cheese very well on a FODMAP basis anyway (thanks for giving me that one, body) 

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INGREDIENTS
200g grated zucchini
150g grated haloumi
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 eggs
50g butter, melted
handful of chopped mint
zest of half a lime
small piece of chopped preserved lemon
1 teaspoon preserved lemon juice
generous salt and pepper
eggs, to serve
ghee or butter, to cook
splash of water if necessary

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METHOD

1. Preheat a pan to a medium heat and warm the ghee.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. I find it easiest if I leave it for five or ten minutes - some of the moisture from the zucchini seems to disappear and make it easier to handle.
3. Fritter size is very much up to you - smaller are easier to handle when cooking because they are quite delicate. Plop the desired amount of mixture in the pan, and spread out until the fritter is a couple of centimetres in height. The best way to cook these is slowly and on a low-medium heat, so a) the haloumi has time to melt and b) they don't turn into scrambled crumbs when you attempt to flip. I would say 4 or 5 minutes on the first side, and 1 or two on the second, but use your cheffy intuition. Or eat them as scrambled crumbs, which are equally as nice.
4. Repeat until you're done, and top with the remaining haloumi (packets are normally 180g, bless) a fried egg, and some extra mint. Too bloody easy.

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Basil and sage involtini with roasted heirloom tomatoes

I am a bit distrustful when people tell me they just don't like Italian food. What is not to like? The cheese? The carbs? The generous servings of garlic?

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That being said, with all my current food intolerances, I do find it increasingly difficult to find/eat Italian food that doesn't make me feel like the bathroom walls are closing in around me a few hours later. Garlic, onion and gluten are probably my worst offenders at the moment, so you can kiiiiiiinda see why this delectable cuisine is a tough nut. And yes, I have had many people point out to me how depressing it is. I am well aware, thks. 

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I have always loved involtini, and my Mum makes it on a semi regular basis. I decided to revamp her recipe, with a few FODMAP friendlier additions and subtractions, provided you can eat some dairy. I miss garlic like the deserts miss the rain, but right now I also like feeling like the end is not nigh. You, however, can add some garlic if you're not a vampire like me. 

SIDE NOTE: I do apologise for the repetitive photos, I lifted a small side table prior to shooting the involtini, and wound up on the floor with a $200 chiropractic bill. Note to self: get fitter. Or just fit. 

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INGREDIENTS

4 medium sized eggplants (the weight of mine totalled 1.3kg with the stems removed)
1kg good quality ricotta (not the watery stuff in plastic containers, at LEAST go to the Deli at the supermarket)
100g freshly grated good quality parmesan (plus extra, to sprinkle on top)
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of sage
generous salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Persian feta (optional but delicious, one can never have too many cheeses/Danish feta would be a good substitute) 
300g heirloom tomatoes (they don't actually need to be heirloom but they were on sale and all I could see were dollar savings and aesthetic bonuses)

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METHOD

1) Slice your eggplant into into about 1-2cm slices, and arrange them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them extremely liberally with table salt, and set aside for 15-20 minutes. The salt will encourage them to sweat out excess moisture.
2) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and pop some baking paper on a tray, along with your tomatoes, a spray of olive oil and some sea salt. Turn the timer on for 30 minutes. 
3) In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, Persian fetta (if you're using it) generous salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and herbs (reserving a few for the top if you plan to Instagram it later) and mix well. 
4) Dry off your eggplant slices. You have two options here, depending on the kitchen utensils available to you. I cooked my eggplant slices in a sandwich press, which is fabulous because it cooks it perfectly, you can walk off and procrastinate, and you barely have to use any oil. You can easily cook them in a pan, but they drink up oil like I drink G&T's on a Friday night. Excessively. 
5) Once you have cooked all your eggplant slices and let them cool, begin to stuff them with the ricotta mixture. There is loads of ricotta mixture so pls stuff them as much as you can. Although eating the ricotta mixture on it's own is kind of delicious. Arrange the stuffed and rolled involtini in a large baking dish as you roll them, making sure they're snuggled up and close to eachother.
6) Once the involtini are sorted, squash up your tomatoes a little bit, and lay them on top. You can use tinned tomatoes if you really want to, but I have a strong aversion to them and always will.
7) Top with extra grated fresh parmesan and pop in the oven for about half an hour, or until golden. Top with extra herbs and ur done. 
 

A weekend away with Tourism Victoria

A few weeks ago now, I was lucky enough to spend a weekend travelling around some of the regional towns of Victoria, as part of the Wander Victoria campaign, a government initiative to encourage more Melbournians to get out there and see more of our state. I will fully admit that I hadn't set the bar overly high - as someone with dietary requirements, my experience of eating in regional towns hasn't always been that great. Cut to memories of me eating three days worth of potato chips and cheese in regional France. 

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However, as is always the case, I was most pleasantly surprised by the foodie and creative delights that exist under two hours drive away from Melbourne. Which I guess is the aim of the campaign. Lucky I don't work in marketing really. 

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In Kyneton, our first stop was Source Dining. I was particularly excited because I had heard great things, and I wasn't disappointed one bit. The food is locally sourced (as the name may suggest to you, astute readers) and the care put into each dish does not go unnoticed.  

Zucchini flower risotto at Source Dining

Zucchini flower risotto at Source Dining

I have to say that Daylesford was my favourite of all the places we visited on our roadtrip. The town itself had just the right amount of bustle and things to do, while still being charming and country. We stayed at Frangos and Frangos in the centre of town, which was perfect and allowed us to have multiple cocktails at Belvedere social next door, without truly leaving the hotel. My idea of a good time.

Dessert at Sault restaurant, Daylesford

Dessert at Sault restaurant, Daylesford

Lake views at Sault, Daylesford

Lake views at Sault, Daylesford

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Morning caffeine hit/dog patting at Larder, Daylesford

Morning caffeine hit/dog patting at Larder, Daylesford

Breakfast at Larder, Daylesford

Breakfast at Larder, Daylesford

Hotel Frango

Hotel Frango

Florian tomatoes, basil, burrata and a black olive crumb at Lakehouse Daylesford

Florian tomatoes, basil, burrata and a black olive crumb at Lakehouse Daylesford

Heirloom beetroot and goats cheese salad at Lakehouse Daylesford

Heirloom beetroot and goats cheese salad at Lakehouse Daylesford

Banana, peanut butter and black sesame dessert at Lakehouse Daylesford

Banana, peanut butter and black sesame dessert at Lakehouse Daylesford

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Happy hour at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

Happy hour at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

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Cute little shops in Daylesford

Cute little shops in Daylesford

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Two lovers having a moment

Two lovers having a moment

Vegetarian offerings at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

Vegetarian offerings at Belvedere Social, Daylesford

No such thing as too many espresso martinis

No such thing as too many espresso martinis

Iced lattes and treats at Vegas and Rose, Ballarat

Iced lattes and treats at Vegas and Rose, Ballarat

Gluten free and vegan biscuits at Vegas and Rose

Gluten free and vegan biscuits at Vegas and Rose

Websters Market and Cafe

Websters Market and Cafe

A whirlwind trip of eating with a gorgeous girlfriend, what more could you ask for?