Recipe – Switchel, A Refreshing Summertime Drink

Switchel is an old-fashioned drink, the origins of which are hard to pinpoint. Dairy farmers in Vermont in the US, the Caribbean or Amish communities? Either which way it doesn’t matter to me. One batch and I’m hooked!

The health benefits of each ingredient are listed below the recipe, however at first glance the mix is full of electrolytes, great for digestion, refreshing, anti-inflammatory and delicious!

I liked the sound of it so much that I made a double batch straight away.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar (make sure it has ‘the mother’)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (2 tsp ground ginger)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ lemon (cut into quarters)

Method

  1. In a clean jar (approximately 1 litre) mix together the vinegar, maple syrup, ginger and salt.
  2. Squeeze the lemon quarters into the jar and then drop lemons into the mix.
  3. Fill to 1 litre with water and refrigerate for at least four hours (or overnight).
  4. Remove and discard the lemon.
  5. You can either shake the grated ginger and drink, or allow it to settle to the bottom.
  6. Drink on its own, with mixed with soda water for a refreshing beverage, or topped up with hot water for a warm cup of tea.

* Make sure you rinse your mouth out with water after finishing. The acidity of the vinegar may affect tooth enamel.

🍏 Apple cider vinegar has a myriad of benefits. Most of these benefits are from anecdotal reports, but still there are too many of them to ignore. Some of these benefits include: relief from heartburn and reflux, improved digestion and reduced bloating, constipation relief, reduced muscle stiffness, balanced blood sugar levels and more.

🔥 Ginger is also well-known for its healing properties. Most of all, it is anti-inflammatory and very settling for the stomach, used often in nausea relief, morning sickness, seasickness and the like.

🍯 Maple syrup and honey may be high in sugar, in their pure form (unheated, untreated) they contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals. Honey is also antibacterial.

🍋 Lemons are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant important for good health and wellbeing, and also potassium. They are alkaline when inside the body. Alkaline foods are important to reduce acidity which is responsible for many of our diseases such as cancer and arthritis. Liminoids (beneficial chemicals) in citrus also have anti-cancer properties.

🌊 Salt has had a bad rap in recent times. Truth is we need a bit of salt. Good quality, well-sourced, unrefined salt contains trace minerals and electrolytes which are essential for all functions of the human body, including but not limited to the immune system, hormones for your thyroid, adrenal gland and reproduction and also brain function.

Make it today!

I highly suggest you make a batch. It may become your favourite summertime drink! Apple cider vinegar is always available in the Santosha clinic. We also stock locally sourced honey, sometimes good quality salt (but can order in if it’s not on the shelf), organic ginger is available at our local Foodland and lemons, well lemons grow on trees!

Let me know what you think.

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Easter Hot Cross Biscuits

Hot Cross Biscuits

I love hot cross buns. Who doesn’t really. Since finding out my body loves life a little more when there’s a little less gluten in it, I have been trying my hand at gluten free hot cross buns each Easter.

However, another blow to my hot cross taste buds came with the results of a food intolerance blood spot test. My body is also not so happy with bakers yeast and brewers yeast, which now rules out any GF breads. Happy tummy, happy me.

But in the lead up to Easter, those spicy buns really get to me. So this year I had an idea: Hot cross biscuits!

Truth be told, they’re just biscuits. But they’re GF, can be DF or vegan with substitution, yeast free to keep my belly happy and quite low in sugar. And I’ve added in spices, sultanas and the crosses on top!

Before I make my next point, there is nothing wrong with gluten free flour. It’s easy, pre-mixed for what you want and comes in many different varieties depending on what you’re making: bread, pizza bases, cakes, etc. So long as there are no ingredients that could possibly cause allergies (potato starch affects some tummies) it’s all good. However, GF flour is still often based on grains, some of which have been found to be inflammatory (check out Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter). And there are so many other options out there and I think there’s a lot to say for experimentation.

Some grain-free flours include:

  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Arrowroot
  • Tapioca

Each one has it’s different properties which make it better suited to some recipes than others. That’s a blog post for another day…

Here they are:

Hot Cross Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1+1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (coconut oil for DF/vegan)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 egg (1 chia/flax ‘egg’ for vegan)
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder

Method

  1. Mix buckwheat, salt, baking soda, vanilla powder and spices in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter/coconut oil and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Blend in ‘egg’.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones and the sultanas. Here I used my hands to really mix it together.
  5. As the buckwheat has no gluten to glue the biccies together (and your insides…gluten does that by the way) pop the mixture into the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up.
  6. Now you can preheat the oven to 175*, line your tray with baking paper and pop the kettle on ready to make a cuppa to have with your fresh biccies.
  7. Divide the mixture into 10-15 biscuits. The photo below is a division into 10 but next time I would do maybe 15 and get them lasting longer.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden on the edges.

Optional are the crosses. I just did that so I felt more like I was eating the real deal and for aesthetics. The crosses are made with 40g buckwheat flour, 50g water, 1/4 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up in a blender of some sort (I used a bullet) and pipe it onto the biscuits.

You could also make the choc chip hot cross biscuits with either choc chips or cacao nibs. That insightful food intolerance test I did also showed up a slight reaction to cacao, so I decided to minimise my exposure and save it for Easter Sunday.

10 freshly baked Hot Cross Biscuits

Cup of tea with a Hot Cross Biscuit

Cup of tea with a Hot Cross Biscuit. My actual morning tea this morning! 🙂


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Chocolate Smoothie

Chocolate Smoothie


This chocolate smoothie, packed full of goodness went down really well with the kids. I saw a few sneaking back for a second serve. The first time I tried it was in the Thermomix. I made the full amount and it came out to over a litre of smoothie, so it will need to be scaled down if you’re not feeding a family. The second time I tried it, I did scale it down and used the Magic Bullet, not the thermie. It took a long time to blend and even then there were chunks of dates and some ice. The Thermomix is second to none when it comes to processing something as hard as ice, but it can be done if you’re patient and don’t mind chunks. Obviously I would recommend the Thermomix for all it’s other functions. If you’re interested in taking a look at the Thermomix and perhaps even hosting a no-obligation demo, send us an email and we’ll pass on Larissa’s details.

What you need:

  • 5 Medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 200g ice
  • 30g raw cacao powder
  • 200g frozen banana (about 2)
  • 200g avocado (about 2)
  • 120g baby spinach (this is a lot of baby spinach, but it blends down)
  • 600g water or coconut water
  • 100g activated almonds (if you don’t have activated, soak them overnight in filtered water)

What to do:

  1. Process the almonds, chia seeds and dates
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth
  3. Serve with a thick straw, this is a thick smoothie

Tips:

Larissa tells me ice breaks everything up and makes it smoother. I’m going to start doing this is more of my smoothies.

Bananas are apparently easier to digest once they’ve been frozen. I always have frozen bananas in my freezer. Once they start to turn a little bit black, peel them, pop them in a ziplock bag and they’ll always be ready.

Coconut water has a lot of sugar, natural sugar, but it’s still sweet. If your after a bit of sweetness use all coconut water, but gradually swap out the coconut for filtered water.

 

This recipe comes from Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking, a brilliant book to accompany your Thermomix. See more on her website.

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Vanilla Cupcakes – Gluten free, Dairy free

Paleo Vanilla Cupcakes

What you need

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Seeds from two vanilla pods/1 tsp vanilla powder

What to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with patty pans
  3. Combine the almond flour, salt and baking powder
  4. In another bowl, combine the eggs, almond milk, honey and vanilla, then stir in the melted coconut oil
  5. Stir this mixture into almond flour mixture and combine well.
  6. Spoon the batter into the patty pans
  7. Bake for 20 mins until risen and firm to touch
  8. Trasnfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely

 

Icing

What you need:

  • 1 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours and drained
  • 1/8 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 ½ tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • Seeds from one vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • Pinch of salt

What to do:

  1. Make the frosting a day before the cakes are to be served.
  2. Place all the ingredients except water in a blender/Thermomix and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the water, a tablespoon at the time until the filling is smooth and your desired texture
  4. Place the mix in a jar and store in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, place in a zip-lock bag. You can then cut a small hole in the corner to use as a piping bag when icing the cakes

 

Recipe courtesy of Paleo Grubs (http://paleogrubs.com/vanilla-cupcake-recipe)

Also see Elana’s Pantry (http://elanaspantry.com/paleo-vanilla-cupcakes)

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Chocolate Cupcakes – Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

What you need:

  • 125 g grass fed butter
  • 1 cup rapadura sugar (200g)
  • 100gms dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur (for the kids party we used Crio Bru roasted cacao beans)
  • ¾ cup gluten free plain flour
  • 2 tbsp gluten free SR flour
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder (20g)
  • 1 egg, beaten

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°c.
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with patty pans.
  3. In a saucepan combine butter, sugar, chocolate, water and liqueur.
  4. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool for 10 mins.
  5. Sift flours and cocoa together.
  6. Fold into chocolate mixture and stir in egg.
  7. Spoon into patty pans until 2/3 full
  8. Bake for 25 mins until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  9. Cool in pan for 5 mins.
  10. Transfer to rack and cool completely
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Raw Chocolate – Dairy Free

What you need:

  • 200g raw cacao butter
  • 60g raw cacao powder
  • 100g raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, powder or natural extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

What to do:

  1. Chop cacao butter roughly into pieces. Place in Thermomix and mill 20 sec/Speed 8
  2. Once milled, melt cacao for 20mins/37°/speed 2. You will need to scrape down the sides and in some cases scrape down the blades as well, until all the cacao butter is melted.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking 10 mins/37°/speed 1.
  4. Thoroughly mix chocolate 20 sec/speed 4 to ensure honey or syrup is blended
  5. Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper or into moulds.
  6. Place in the freezer to set quickly, without separating.

You can add anything you please to the chocolate at step 5 or 6. Nuts, coconut, dried fruit, spices, pieces of gelatin jelly, dried berries, edible essential oils, anything your chocolate heart desires.

Full credit for this recipe goes to Quirky Cooking

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Gelatin Treats

Grass Fed Gelatin Snacks

Most kids love jelly. But most jelly is the aeroplane sort. Full of sugar, colours and ‘numbers’.

Grass Fed gelatin offers an easy and healthy alternative. There are so many different variations of gelatin treats. The options are literally endless. I’ve seen all sorts of juices, coconut milk, almond milk, coffee, ginger, fruit, whatever you can imagine. Use moulds, cut them in squares, store in jars and eat with a spoon, however you please.

It’s definitely not just for the kids! It makes a great high-protein, healthy snack for all ages.

Begin with:

  • 1 tbsp gelatin powder
  • 1 cup liquid

At the Santosha 1st Birthday, Amy supplied us with two flavours made with:

  • Charlie’s Spirulina Whole Fruit Smoothie
  • Nudie Apple Juice

You can use more or less liquid depending on the consistency you’re after.

Why consume gelatin?

Gelatin is almost all protein, which means it makes a great, energy boosting snack. It is the richest food source of the amino acid glycine, which is particularly important for your health.

Gelatin is derived from collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in skin, bones, tendons and muscles. Therefore collagen can help to improve skin (bye bye wrinkles!), strengthen bones and increase lean muscle mass. Collagen is found in the parts of animals we don’t often consume, like the cartilage and bones. Bone broth is a great way to extract the goodness out of these parts (see post on bone broth), but thankfully we can also easily access these nutrients in gelatin or collagen powders.

Santosha is now stocking Vital Collagen products including Beef Gelatin (don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like beef) and Collagen Peptides.

Grass Fed Girl’s Easy Paleo Gelatin Treats contains many more recipes: Click here to view more details

 

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Thermomix Play Dough

Home made Playdough

Home-made play dough is reasonably simple to make. Its a great alternative to store bought play dough as you know what’s in it, it’s all natural and a much cheaper option.

This recipe can also be adapted for stove-top.

What you need

  • 250g water
  • 100g salt
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 20g olive oil
  • Natural food colouring of choice

What to do

  1. Place water, salt and cream of tartar into mixing bowl and heat 5 min/60°c/speed 3
  2. Add flour and oil and mix 40 sec/speed 4, then knead 1 min
  3. Divide dough into 3 equal portions, then line work surface with baking paper to avoid staining. Working 1 portion at a time, add a few drops of food colouring and kneed through dough. Adjust food colouring as required to create desired shade.
  4. Store each colour in a separate sealable container to keep play dough from hardening.

Tips

Food colouring may colour hands. Wearing rubber gloves while making your play dough will prevent staining

To create more colours, simply divide your play dough into as many equal portions as you like in step 3 and proceed as per recipe.

 

Recipe courtesy of Thermomix

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Vegetarian Cold Rolls

This recipe can also be made as a non-vegetarian meal with chicken or prawns.

Cold Rolls Ingredients

What you need:

Filling (Any combination of the list below):

  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Avocado
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Mint leaves
  • Kelp noodles
  • Rice paper

Dipping Sauce

  • Sweet chili sauce
  • Tamari
  • Soy sauce (fermented)

What to do:

Prepare your ingredients for the rolls, eg. Finely slice the lettuce, peel and grate the carrots, wash the bean sprouts etc.

Place the kelp noodles in a bowl of water. Break them apart as best you can. I grab the whole lot and chop it through the middle, twice. So the noodles aren’t so long and more easily handled.

Pour a small amount of luke warm water on a dinner plate and place a clean tea towel beside. Quickly but carefully place a sheet of rice paper in the water, covering completely. Then remove immediately and place on the tea towel.

*When I started making cold rolls I used to wet one piece of rice paper completely. Put it on the tea towel, then put the next one in the water while I was filling the first one. This doesn’t work! The paper rips easily and is not so elastic. Thanks to my friend Alice and her tips at a yummy Vietnamese restaurant when we were in LA in early 2014. After that night, I feel like an expert.

Folding Cold Rolls

The order of your ingredients doesn’t really matter but I like aesthetically pleasing food so I always place the noodles down first, then the lettuce, other salad ingredients, (meat if I’m using it,) then mint leaves. Roll as per the instructions on the rice paper packet: Roll half way, fold the sides in, and then keep rolling. The rice paper will be a little sticky which is good, because it holds your rolls together in the end.

Serve with your choice of dipping sauce. My favourite is Braggs Coconut Aminos or Tamari (traditionally fermented, gluten free, soy sauce).

Vegetarian Cold Rolls

 

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Cashew and Coconut Biscuits

These low sugar cashew biscuits are so yummy that everyone who I’ve shared them with end up asking me for the recipe. They are similar to ANZAC biscuits but are made with cashews rather than oats. Despite being low in sugar they are very tasty.

I found the original recipe in a fastPaleo cookbook “Top 10 Cookies of 2013”. They referenced the recipe as being from Kate’s Healthy Cupboard, a website which is definitely worth a visit.

As they contain no flour, the biscuits are very soft and fragile when they come out of the oven. As long as you are gentle they will hold together and as they cool will harden up. Even if you do end up breaking one (they kinda just crumble) you have two options: eat it quickly! Or push it back together and it will set. Personally I would just eat it.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups cashews
  • 1 cup shredded or dessicated coconut
  • 1/3 cup rapadura sugar (or other unrefined sugar substitute)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder (Honest to Goodness do an amazing vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk

(My cashews, coconut, rapadura, vanilla powder, Himalayan sea salt, coconut oil and coconut milk all came from Honest to Goodness. They have a huge range of organic pantry items. If you can get them wholesale or through a food co-op in your area they are great value for money too!)

What to do:

Process the cashews and coconut until it resembles somewhere between sand and gravel. The more times you make these biscuits (and it will be more than once!) you’ll get to know how course or fine you like them.

Add rapadura, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Process just until combined.

Pour in melted coconut oil and the coconut milk and mix until it becomes a dough.

Scoop into balls and place on baking paper on an oven tray. Again you can play with the shape and size. I use a big teaspoon worth of mixture. Flatten them down slightly.

Bake at 175 degrees for 10 minutes or until just brown.

Remove from the oven and slide baking paper off and onto a tray.

Wait until they have cooled to move onto a rack.

Store in an airtight container once they have cooled completely.

Share them around. Everyone will love them!

Cashews are high in the amino acid L-tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin, your happy hormone. They also contain magnesium which helps in many biochemcial pathways including relaxation of muscles but also energy pathways. So next time you’re feeling a bit down, reach for a handful of cashews and give yourself a natural boost!

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