NECTARINE & AVOCADO TOASTIES (with almonds, feta & chili flakes)

You will need to trust me on this one. These toasties are simply delicious; a perfect balance of savoury and sweet, crunchy and creamy… with touch of zingy, refreshing sourness, a little earthy nuttiness and a subtle kick of heat.

Do try this at home.

MissMarzipan_Nectarine_Avocado_Toasties

NECTARINE & AVOCADO TOASTIES
(with almonds, feta & chili flakes)

Serves: 1-2

INGREDIENTS

2 slices of sourdough bread (or plain bread of choice)
1 ripe avocado
1/2 a ripe nectarine
1/2 a lime (enough for a good squeeze of lime juice)
60 ml crumbled feta (or vegan feta: try homemade almond feta or store-bought tofu/nut-based)
1/2- 1 tsp poppy seeds
A pinch or two of dried chili flakes
A couple of tablespoons of slivered almonds
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Unsweetened lingonberry powder* (optional)
Olive oil to drizzle over

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a baking tray with foil or baking parchment. Place the bread slices on the lined tray.
  2. Slice the nectarine half into 10-12 slices.
    Scoop the avocado into a bowl, add a squeeze of lime and smash it up roughly with a fork.
  3. Spread the avocado over both slices of bread. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds, then the crumbled feta and almonds. Place the nectarine slices on top and sprinkle with chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper if you wish
  4. Pop the tray under the grill for a couple of minutes, watching to make sure that bread is toasted but nothing burns (we’ve all been there, I am sure :P ).
  5. Remove from grill and sprinkle sparingly with a little lingonberry powder* (if desired) and drizzle over a small amount of olive oil. Serve immediately.

*I used Finnberry Lingonberry Powder

**I was first introduced to the fruit + avocado combo by I Quit Sugar (their strawberry avocado toasties rock!) and I have been a more adventurous eater ever since!

QUINOA CHIA PORRIDGE WITH MIXED BERRY COMPOTE & ALMONDS

This truly delicious porridge is perfect for a make-ahead breakfast treat; an interesting, healthy, indulgent and different spin on overnight oats, that takes mere minutes to prepare… and is a great way to use up leftover quinoa.

It is wonderful served cold, straight from the fridge or, if you prefer, both the compote and the porridge can be warmed through (with additional milk of choice added) for a comforting way to fuel up on a frosty day.

Protein-packed, plant-based, gluten-free and cane sugar-free, this is one yummy breakfast treat that is actually good for you.

MissMarzipan_Quinoa_Chia_Porridge_Berry_Compote

QUINOA CHIA PORRIDGE WITH MIXED BERRY COMPOTE & ALMONDS

Makes: 2 generous portions (or 4 small portions) 

PORRIDGE INGREDIENTS
125 ml (75 g) cooked, cooled quinoa
60 ml chia seeds
60 ml desiccated coconut
60 ml ground/flaked almonds (depending upon desired consistency)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)
200 ml coconut milk
200 ml almond milk
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)

COMPOTE INGREDIENTS
350 ml mixed organic frozen berries
A squeeze of lime or lemon juice

FOR SERVING
Slivered almonds
Extra almond/coconut milk for serving if desired

DIRECTIONS FOR COMPOTE

  1. Simply pop frozen berries into a small sauce pan over medium heat, squeeze over citrus juice of choice and allow berries to defrost, stirring gently occasionally. This should take around 5 minutes.
  2. Compote can be served warm or cooled and stored in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge.

 

DIRECTIONS FOR PORRIDGE

  1. Add all porridge ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl or a large jar and mix well. Pop on cling wrap/a lid and place in the fridge overnight.*
  2. Remove from fridge and spoon into bowls or mason jars, topping/layering with spoonfuls of the berry compote.
  3. Sprinkle with slivered almonds, serve immediately and enjoy!

 

*If short on time, you can make this 2-3 hours before serving, preparing as above. Stir and check to make sure chia seeds have gelled properly before serving.

MissMarzipan_Quinoa_Chia_Porridge_Berry_Compote2

 

SPICY SWEET POTATO BURGERS WITH ZESTY TAHINI SLAW

Looking for a veggie burger with a difference? If you like things a little spicy, this recipe could be just the ticket! I have eaten many a veggie burger, but not a single one with this flavour profile and I am very pleased to include this in my updated top 5 homemade burger recipe repertoire!

Unless you use a store-bought garam masala mix (in which case, tweaking the amount of spice you add may be necessary), you will have to create your own. Fear not! The Quick Garam Masala Spice Mix recipe included below is so easy and takes just a minute to make!

MissMarzipan_spicy_sweet_potato_burger

QUICK GARAM MASALA SPICE MIX

Makes: approx. 2 tbsp

This recipe is based on a thrown-together spice mix, made from a combination of spices in my kitchen spice rack, that turned out surprisingly well. I won’t claim that it’s 100% authentic, but I stand by the fact that it’s quick and easy!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional, but recommended)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
A pinch of ground clove

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pound the fennel and mustard seeds using a mortar and pestle. Mix in remaining ingredients.

 

 

SPICY SWEET POTATO BURGERS

Serves: 4 | Combined prep & cook time*: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

100 g cooked, cooled quinoa
220 g tinned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp Quick Garam Masala Spice Mix (see recipe above)
350 g cooked, mashed sweet potato
Salt and pepper to season

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sweet potato, quinoa, black beans, onion, spice mix and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Onto your baking paper-lined tray, spoon even amounts of the burger mixture and, using your hands and the back of a metal spoon, shape the mixture into 4 hamburger patties.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Carefully flip the burgers and continue to bake for around 15 minutes more. Your burgers should be starting to dry out a little, though you shouldn’t expect them to crisp up on the outside in the same manner a fried pattie might. The longer the bake time, the firmer they will be and, as all ovens are different, do keep an eye on things during the second baking time to make sure your burgers are your preferred texture.
  6. Remove from oven when done to your liking. Serve immediately on bun of choice with your preferred additions** and heap of zesty tahini slaw.

 

*Assuming use of  pre-cooked quinoa and sweet potato
**My burgers featured thin slices of grilled aubergine “bacon”, plus slices of fresh tomato and avocado. 

 

ZESTY TAHINI SLAW

Prepare the veggies and tasty dressing for this easy slaw while your veggie burgers are baking!

MissMarzipan_tahini_slaw_pepitas

INGREDIENTS

1 medium cucumber
1 large carrot, peeled
75 ml tahini
75 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp melted coconut oil/olive oil
Water to achieve desired consistency (approx. 30 – 75 ml)
A pinch of salt
Pepitas to sprinkle over, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Using a julienne blade on a mandoline or a julienne peeler, shred the carrot and cucumber into long, even strips.
  2. Whisk, blend or shake (in a jar) the tahini, lemon juice, oil, water and salt until well-combined and smooth.
  3. Just prior to serving, dress your slaw. Depending on the consistency of your tahini dressing you can either toss as much as you like gently through your vegetable strips (best if the consistency is thin), or dollop a generous amount onto a handful of slaw.
  4. Serve immediately, sprinkled with pepitas, atop your Spicy Sweet Potato Burger. Alternatively, try this slaw as a side salad or sandwich filling.

*You will probably make more dressing than required, but it can be kept in the fridge for a few days and used as a salad dressing or dip.

MissMarzipan_spicy_sweet_potato_burger2

 

CUCUMBER LIME SODA WITH FRESH MINT

Just 4 ingredients (+ water, of course) and zero sweetener; the perfect way to rehydrate after an active day… especially now that it’s finally starting to warm up a little in Stockholm.

My kids love this drink (they are big “bubble water” fans!) and particularly like scooping out and eating the cucumber ribbons once the water is gone. Double hydration factor- yeah!

MissMarzipan_cucumber_lime_soda

CUCUMBER LIME SODA WITH FRESH MINT

Serves: 4 | Prep time: 2 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 a cucumber, sliced (for ribbons, use a vegetable peeler)
1 lime, sliced
A handful of mint leaves
Ice cubes
2 litres sparkling water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add handfuls of ice cubes, some mint leaves, plus slices of cucumber and lime to a jug/glass/jar, then top with sparkling water.
  2. Serve immediately and enjoy!

MissMarzipan_cucumber_lime_soda_L

ZUCCHINI CHIPS WITH TAMARI AND SESAME SEEDS

No dehydrator? No problem! These chips can be made in the oven and are a light and super-tasty snack, perfect for anytime of the day.

MissMarzipan_zucchini_chips_tamari_sesame_nori

ZUCCHINI CHIPS WITH TAMARI AND SESAME SEEDS

 Serves: 2 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: approx. 1.5 hours

INGREDIENTS

1 zucchini at room temperature
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon nori flakes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 90°C (fan) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Using a mandoline, slice zucchini thinly.
  3. In a small bowl combine sesame seeds and nori flakes.
  4. Place slices zucchini in a large bowl pour over oil and tamari, tossing zucchini slices gently to ensure they are evenly coated.
  5. Arrange zucchini slices on trays making sure they do not overlap. Sprinkle a little of the sesame seed mix over each slice.
    Bake at 90°C (fan) for 1 hour. Remove trays from oven and very carefully flip each zucchini chip. Place rotated trays back in oven for around 20-40 minutes (as all ovens are different, do check the progress of your chips).
    Remove trays from oven.

 

*These chips are best eaten freshly made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

ALMOND WALNUT QUINOA-LA WITH FIGS & ORANGE SYRUP

A few years ago, on a whim, I bought a packet of quinoa flakes. With no specific recipe in mind in which to feature them, I ended up using them in a variety of baked goods, in place of oats. The results were surprisingly good and I became interested to experiment further.

This quinoa-based granola (which I have dubbed “quinoa-la”) is a delicious alternative to oaty packaged cereal mixes. The combination of warming spices and crunchy clusters of orange-infused granola, bejewelled with syrup-drizzled fresh figs, is surprisingly indulgent, wholesome and satisfying all at once.

MissMarzipan_Almond_Walnut_Quinoa-la_Figs_Syrup1

ALMOND WALNUT QUINOA-LA WITH FIGS & ORANGE SYRUP

Serves: 6-8 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 25 – 30 mins

INGREDIENTS FOR QUINOA-LA

75 ml walnuts, chopped
75 ml slivered almonds
300 ml quinoa flakes
150 ml desiccated coconut
50 ml pumpkin seeds
50 ml sunflower seeds
2 tbsp linseeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 green apple, peeled and grated
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp rice malt syrup/maple syrup
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp orange zest, finely grated

Plus 1 fresh fig per person, for serving

DIRECTIONS FOR QUINOA-LA

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (fan). Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine and mix quinoa flakes, coconut, seeds, nuts and spices with a spoon.
  3. In a medium bowl mix grated apple, syrup, vanilla essence, zest and orange juice. Pour this wet mix into the dry ingredients, mix and combine.
  4. Tip granola mix onto baking parchment-lined tray and place in the middle of the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Open the oven, give the granola a stir and turn the heat down to 150°C. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove tray from oven and allow granola to cool completely*.
  7. Serve with almond milk/coconut yogurt/coconut cream and fresh figs drizzled with orange syrup.
  8. Store remainder of granola mix in an airtight container.

 

*Leaving the granola for a few hours before storing it, will produce a crispier result. I prefer it crunchy, so will sometimes leave the tray to cool and sit (even inside a partly open oven after baking) for a few hours.

 

MissMarzipan_Almond_Walnut_Quinoa-la_Figs_Syrup2

MissMarzipan_Orange_Syrup_Quinoa-la

 

ORANGE SYRUP

Serves: 4 | Prep time: 2 mins | Cook time: 2 mins

INGREDIENTS FOR SYRUP

50 ml rice malt syrup/maple syrup
50 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
A pinch of orange zest, finely grated
1/2 tsp arrowroot powder + 1 tbsp water, optional (for thickening)
1 tsp coconut oil

DIRECTIONS FOR SYRUP

  1. If using arrowroot, in a small bowl, combine water and arrowroot powder to create a milky, lump-free slurry.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine juice, syrup and zest. Bring to a gentle simmer, add slurry (if desired) and coconut oil. Stir well.
  3. Keep pan over low-medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Syrup will thicken up a bit and become glossy. If your orange syrup thickens too much, add extra liquid in the form of syrup/orange juice/water (or a combination) and stir well over low-medium heat until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Serve immediately, drizzled over your fresh fig-topped quinoa-la*.

 

MissMarzipan_Almond_Walnut_Quinoa-la_Figs_Syrup3

 

*This syrup can also be used with pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc.
** If you can’t find/don’t like quinoa flakes, I am sure this recipe could work with another type of flaked grain, or even gluten-free oats, if you prefer a more traditional granola. As I haven’t made this recipe any other way, I cannot guarantee optimal results and you may need to tweak things a little as you go.

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

A muffin for breakfast with a delicious twist!

For a while I have been mentioning my favourite recipes on Instagram, and I am finally playing catch-up and starting to post them, as promised. When I posed the question yesterday, “Which of my baked porridge recipes would you like to see next?”, the winner – by Instagram comment vote – was Blueberry Muffin.

So here it is… (but rest assured, the others will follow shortly! ;) )…

MissMarzipan_blueberrymuffin_porridge_potslg

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

250 ml gluten-free oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
150 ml frozen organic blueberries
50 ml coconut milk
150 ml almond milk
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
2 heaped tbsp fresh blueberries
50 ml pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins/oven safe jars (mine hold 350 ml each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients – minus blueberries – and mix to combine well.
  4. Gently fold the frozen blueberries into the porridge mix (you want pretty, jammy pockets of blueberries to form as the porridge muffin bakes).
  5. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins/jars, stud with fresh blueberries and top with chopped pistachios.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  7. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins/jars will be very hot at first), then pour over a little almond milk and/or coconut cream, if you like. They can also be kept covered in the fridge (after cooling) for at least 3 days, and make a wonderful, portable breakfast treat served just as they are… Picnic, anyone? ;)

 

* If you like this recipe, check out the one it is based on; my Sweet Potato Pie Baked Porridge Pots!

I QUIT SUGAR 8-WEEK PROGRAM, ROUND 3 (Clean Week and beyond in review)

It has now been a few weeks since the last round (my third) of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program wrapped up, and although there where similarities between this round and previous ones I have participated in, on a personal note, some new things certainly came to light.

As always, the recipes were wonderful and the food on point. So let’s start there! :)

WHAT I ATE

If everyone found quitting sugar a breeze, there’d be no need for the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program. Quitting sugar doesn’t have to be about white-knuckling your way through the day and heaping guilt on yourself if you trip up along the way, yet most people seem to be unarmed with the knowledge, support or resources to find the process easy. It isn’t just the coping with potential detox symptoms, it’s knowing what to eat in order to remain satiated, being prepared food-wise in order to avoid making bad choices, reprogramming your taste buds and discovering new ways to enjoy food so that your health reboot lasts beyond a detox and becomes a lifestyle choice with a modicum of longevity. This is where the 8WP excels, in my opinion. The food is not only good (as in, tasty and nutritionally balanced), but exciting. Participants look forward to seeing what’s in store for the week ahead. If you’re like me (i.e., time-poor!), you’ll find the Sunday Cook-Ups a godsend, and the introduction to new dishes and ways of thinking about food provides inspiration long after the program is over.

The images above illustrate only a small selection of what the second half of the 8WP weekly meal plans had on offer. I became rather unadventurous when it came to breakfasts, finding I loved the Make-Me-Over Mojito Smoothie so much that it became kind of a staple from Clean Week onwards.

I have been asked a few times whether it is difficult to undertake the program when based in the Northern Hemisphere (as the program is designed and based in Australia). The short answer is no. By swapping out the couple of things I could not find (due to issues of seasonality), I was able to come up with equally as tasty variations of the original IQS recipes (see Lentil, Quinoa & Blackberry Salad above). The meals are fresh yet satisfying and there are lots of hearty options and lighter meals. So really, something to suit all climates… even the brutal subzero ones like we experience during winter!

This last phase of the 8WP introduced me to some of my favourite IQS dishes yet, including The Ultimate Salad, which I can honestly say is one of the only salads I have ever tried that I have cravings for when I think about it. And I love salads!

To see more detail about some of the other dishes featured in this phase of the program (for the vegetarian version of the IQS8WP), click on the images in the montage above. And do note that for every new round of the program they like to shake things up, adding between around 30-60% new recipes, plus new features and program-exclusive bonus content (like free recipes, videos, etc.).

HOW I FELT

When I left you with my last 8WP update, I was feeling rather challenged and exhausted. A string of winter illnesses, over-analysis about said illnesses and being unable to continue running on my own proverbial “performance treadmill”, had led me to a point of surrender… and a simultaneous willingness to embark upon the Clean Week journey wholeheartedly.

In part I approached Clean Week with such enthusiasm because I was hoping for an answer, health-wise. I hoped that being caffeine-free (which I’d already been since the commencement of the 8WP), gluten-free and sugar-free all at once would “fix” my apparently shoddy immunity. I had spent much of this round of the 8WP wondering why my healthy lifestyle choices were unable to prevent me from coming down with repeated common colds and similar ailments. What was wrong with me that meant that, while some so-called social media wellness gurus were purportedly “curing” themselves of terminal illness via diet*, I couldn’t manage to ward off a simple cold?

Was I falling ill on a regular basis because I was a Rushing Woman? Was it because I didn’t love myself enough? Was there something more sinister and serious going on for me health-wise? Or was I simply stuck in some kind of health-related analysis paralysis… over nothing bigger than a combination of Swedish winter + returning to the workforce + a particularly bad cold/flu season + having small children in nursery school? I saw three GPs and had several tests done, including blood work, during the course of the 8WP in search of an answer*, not because I am a hypochondriac, but simply because at worst it was worrisome, and at best it was annoyingly disruptive to every area of my life; from my ability to work, to my ability to work out!

In the midst of it all – all the soul-searching, all the questioning, all the detoxing – something(s) happened and the “wellness world” was rocked by a series of incidences. I am truly surprised by how affected I was by it all. There are two posts written by me about the very subject, currently sitting unedited in my drafts folder; a testament to the head miles I did about this. At the time, I had just begun to give myself a very hard time about the state of my health, feeling (strangely) guilty that I wasn’t in perfect health 100% of the time, despite my best efforts to live well. I felt as though I was failing.

But then I stopped playing that tape.

It was clear that I had really been taking some things at face value. I was reminded yet again of the need to avoid judging my insides by other people’s outsides. Things are not always as they seem… and, sadly, via social media lies can be sold by the unscrupulous.

Around Clean Week, I was starting to question being honest about my everyday “garden variety” health concerns. To be more specific, I questioned whether posting an image of a healthy, tasty looking meal I’d eaten, simultaneously adding in the caption that I’d come down with fever, would be “inspirational” to others. Maybe not. But my health journey is about me and, when I shared such stuff, it was my reality- inspirational or not. I was eating well, no doubt, and certain aspects of that were definitely health-affirming, yet my immunity this winter was not great. It’s a disappointing fact. And sharing about the status of my health with integrity compels me to include both the ups and the inevitable downs. When time allowed I was able to participate in the 8WP forums. Here too I wanted to be honest about what was going on for me whilst supporting others, but I worried at times that I simply could not participate in the manner I could/would have, had I been in a perfect state of health with an abundance of energy. That, in conjunction with my inability to be as “present” and productive in my work life and at home as I like to be, was beyond frustrating.

Meanwhile, the media continued to reveal an untangling of various webs of wellness lies. The gravity of the impact those lies has had cannot fully be known but, personally, I was struck with a sense of incredible gratitude that I had chosen a path to explore that was founded in a healthy, balanced approach to eating… and one that had been forged from a genuine wellness journey! I started to become grateful too that I had chosen to communicate “my stuff” honestly, and that I freely shared recipes/the things that inspire me/the things I have tried as a “non-professional”… placing, for example, my Facebook page in the personal blog category rather than that of a health/wellness website***.

And so I continued on my way, sticking with the 8-Week Program to the best of my ability. I cut back on hot yoga and running, as I found my glands would start to swell within a day or two of undertaking either. I incorporated things such as oil pulling and herbal infusions into my daily regime. I implemented a 10pm bedtime curfew for myself. I went through all my cosmetic and toiletries products and started to swap out the non-organic ones for organic where possible (I already tried to buy organic alternatives but wanted to take things up a notch). In many respects, this Clean Week was the most successful of the three I have done, even if it wasn’t the immunity boosting quick fix I had hoped it would be. For me, it went beyond quitting sugar.

My winter illnesses had prevented me from consistent exercise. As soon as I’d seemingly fully recovered from a cold/fever, I’d hit the gym. Usually within 48 hours I’d feel under the weather again. Days of inactivity (even time off work + bed rest) would go by to allow for rest and recovery, then the same cycle would kick off. It was a source of immense frustration, worry and even distress at times. The last thing you want during the extremely low-energy, dark and freezing winter months in Scandinavia is to have to eliminate one of your primary sources of energy and vitality… especially whilst undertaking a health reset! I put on weight as a result of the inability to accomplish what my body was used to doing (which normally includes engaging in some kind of physical activity most days of the week as opposed to lying in bed for days at a time!). I can only count my blessings that, due to the 8WP, things were pretty good in the ol’ food department! Some kind of counter-balance!

Luckily, those days of inactivity seem to be behind me, and I am back to daily movement of some form or another (yoga and walking mostly), which is far more in line with the IQS8WP Movement Plan that I had hoped to follow! Things are balancing out again. *Happy dancing!*

And that brings me to…

MOVING ON

Good news. According to my regular doctor, essentially all seems fine with me health-wise. My thyroid condition is stable, for example. It is her belief that it really was just a matter of bad luck that I was unwell during the winter, and “nothing unusual” (she said she was seeing patients on a daily basis with the same issues I was having, and all had small children). Interestingly, a couple of weeks after the program ended, I developed tonsillitis for which I took a course of antibiotics. I have not been sick since that time. Could it be that, during the winter, my body was in a constant state of trying to fight infection (hence the swollen glands and lapses into illness after exercise)? I will ask my doctor when I meet her next but, if so, it seems that my lifestyle choices were probably helping to support and maintain me far more that I realised.

Since the program ended, I have continued to cook recipes from the 8WP, develop my own recipes based around IQS principles, and have also gotten stuck into the new I Quit Sugar book, Healthy Family Meals, which truly contains some of the best IQS recipes I have tried. My family has loved them too which, no doubt, is the whole point of the book! One of the best things about family friendly recipe books is that we can allow the kids to choose what to make and then let them help us in the kitchen.

If there’s a sure-fire way to get my kids eating well, it’s to allow them to experience the pride and satisfaction of making something themselves. There’s no way they wont try something they’ve helped to create!

Although I am not sure what has caused recent flare-ups of hormonal issues (my cycle has been all over the place, for example), eating well is certainly not going to harm me and, as I have experienced, can actually relieve the unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, cramping and wild mood-swings.

On a very positive note, I feel like my mojo has returned along with sunnier Swedish days. I am finding a more workable balance of things home/work/food/exercise-related and generally feeling happier, more positive, energised and inspired. For the past week or more I have managed to maintain a daily yoga and squat practice. I have been cooking with enthusiasm and eating heartily.

MORE TO LOVE

It feels good to make informed choices, it feels good to cook and eat real food, it feels great to not be a slave to sugar… and it also feels fine to eat it in some fashion – without guilt – moderately and occasionally. I am forever grateful for the experience and education I have received as a participant in the IQS8WP, and the journey of self-discovery it has taken me on. My knowledge of IQS principles is something that remains with me, no matter what I cook at home or choose to buy when I am out and about. As Sarah Wilson says, “You can’t unlearn this stuff”!

Unlike some wellness programs, IQS is largely a common-sense approach to eating real food and the program is developed with/supported by certified health and nutrition professionals. It’s about cutting back on junk (like sugar, of course), reprogramming your taste buds, getting organised in the home/kitchen and getting back to food basics (e.g. cooking and eating fresh produce). The JERF (“Just Eat Real Food”) principle is the base of a dietary approach that is sustainable long-term, and is what our bodies are designed to do (as opposed to follow starvation, “quick fix”-style regimes).

IQS is not a miracle “cure-all” diet****, nor does it claim to be, although some people certainly experience dramatic, positive health benefits as a result of following it. At the very least, following the program will help break a sugar addiction and improve energy levels naturally (why I signed up for my first round).

There may be some people whose particular lifestyle choices/dietary issues are incompatible with the mainstream IQS approach (which was developed originally to suit omnivores and dairy eaters), but IQS is very adaptable and certainly far more inclusive than other programs, as I have found myself (as a vegetarian with a vegan husband and omnivorous children!). The IQS community is a very supportive one, where information and inspiration is freely shared by professionals and participants alike, and kind encouragement is easy to find, should you need it.

A new round of the IQS8WP is starting on June 4. If you have any questions about it, from a participant point of view, feel free to drop me a line. Otherwise, you can check it out for yourself if you’re interested.

<3 MM xx


*Not true, it turns out.

**Since the completion of the 8WP I have undergone a full physical (including more blood work) at a medical centre here and expect the results within a couple of weeks.

***If/when I have a qualification that allows me to change this in good conscience or I collaborate with a qualified health practitioner, I might redefine things… but definitely not until such a time.

****I was so relieved to read this post by Sarah Wilson on the subject of diet, disease and responsibility. Thank you for being one of the few notable wellness figures brave and honest enough to speak up on the matter, Sarah! 

SWEET POTATO PIE BAKED PORRIDGE POTS (Happy Food Revolution Day, 2015!)

Yes, it’s Food Revolution Day, 2015. And rather than host an activity as I have done in previous years, this year I decided to simply cook with my family, getting the kids involved (they love helping in the kitchen!) and, in the spirit of the day, popping on a couple of Jamie’s Food Tube videos and an episode of MasterChef Australia to watch. And, of course, we signed the petition to show support for compulsory practical food education in schools worldwide. As I type this, Jamie is 181,501 signatures away from reaching his goal of 1.5 million! So if you think that a happy, healthy life and good nutrition should be a right for every child, you might want to consider spending 30 seconds to sign the petition too.

And so, to our breakfast today…
Let it be known, I am rather obsessed with porridge. And I have a major thing for sweet potatoes (in case you hadn’t noticed!). If you are likewise a fan of oats and sweet potatoes, this recipe is surely everything you could want in a nourishing breakfast; think something akin to a combination of sweet potato pie, a bowl of creamy oatmeal and a spiced muffin, fresh from the oven.

No, I am not kidding.

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge1

The recipe is rather similar to an apple and oat muffin recipe I first started making waaay back in 2004 . The main differences between this recipe and that one, are that back then I used a natural muesli (containing raisins), plus some oil for moisture and eggs for rise. These baked porridge pots, on the other hand, are gluten-free, oil-free, egg-free and fruit-free (for those minding their fructose intake).

The most important thing to me (and my kids), however, is that they are darn delicious… and filling, satisfying, warm and comforting… I could go on!

There is plenty here for little ones to get involved with prep-wise, from the measuring of dry ingredients to the mashing of sweet potato. Actually, I am not sure what my kids liked more, the process or the end result.
MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge2

SWEET POTATO PIE BAKED PORRIDGE POTS

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS

250 ml gluten-free oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
150 ml (1 small-medium) sweet potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
50 ml coconut milk
150 ml almond milk
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
50 ml chopped pecan nuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins (mine hold 350 ml each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix to combine well.
  4. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins and top with chopped pecans.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  6. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins will be very hot at first), then pour over a little almond milk and/or coconut cream and finish with a sprinkle extra cinnamon, if you like.

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge3

MissMarzipan_sweetpotatopie_baked_porridge4


*Note: I started writing this post on the morning of May 15 (FRD), but didn’t get around to posting until 12:11am on the 16th, so not technically on FRD
;)

DUKKAH CRUSTED SWEET POTATO FRIES & TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

This combination of two simple, but utterly delicious sides, is sure to please. Talented Elaine of Foodbod fame is a woman after my own heart. And so, when she asked me what I would feed her, this recipe I created with the intention of sharing around the start of the year (where has 2015 gone?) sprang to mind.

Sweet potatoes should have their own step on the food pyramid, imo. I truly love them that much. And anything spice-related likewise ticks major boxes for me. The simple recipe is the amalgamation of a variant of a hastily-thrown-together dukkah recipe (strangely, I have not found ready-made dukkah here in Stockholm!) and one for my beloved sweet potato fries. The Tahini Dipping sauce makes a tasty, creamy, vegan alternative to aioli or the like and a legume-free alternative to hummus… So for any Paleo-style eaters out there, this is something for you too.  It is adjustable depending on whether you want a spread, dip or drizzle consistency. And if you like falafel, these simple dishes, with an accompanying green salad, make for the most perfect sides.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Dukkah Crusted Sweet Potato Fries and Tahini Dipping Sauce with Roasted Garlic

Smaklig måltid, as we say in Sweden!

And do check out lovely Elaine’s amazing veg creations and fab variety of “What would you feed me?” guest posts… it’s truly amazing how versatile plants can be in the kitchen!

Marisa (AKA Miss Marzipan) xx

DUKKAH CRUSTED SWEET POTATO FRIES & TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

MissMarzipan_dukkah_fries_falafel_smlMissMarzipan_dukkah_fries_dinner_spread_sml DUKKAH CRUSTED SWEET POTATO FRIES

INGREDIENTS

1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp white sesame seeds
2 tsp black sesame seeds
4 tsp pepita and/or sunflower seeds to scatter over
3-4 sweet potatoes, cut into rustic, chips/wedges (see images below)
2 tbsp melted coconut oil/olive oil
At least 1 whole, unpeeled garlic clove for roasting (for the dipping sauce)
Salt and pepper to season

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 190° C (fan) and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Crush cumin and fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle.
  3. Pop crushed seeds into a small bowl with the sesame seeds.
  4. Place the potato wedges in a large bowl, drizzle over oil and toss potatoes to coat with the oil. Sprinkle over the seed and spice mix and toss gently to coat.
  5. Place the coated potato wedges and unpeeled garlic clove (roast extra for later if you like) on the baking tray. Scatter over pepitas and/or sunflower seeds.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until seeds are nicely toasted and potato wedges are baked. I don’t turn them during baking (lazy!), but you can if you like.
  7. Serve hot, with Tahini Dipping Sauce with Roasted Garlic to accompany.

MissMarzipan_dukkah_fries_wedge_cut_sml MissMarzipan_dukkah_chunky_chips_cut_sml TAHINI DIPPING SAUCE WITH ROASTED GARLIC

INGREDIENTS
75 ml tahini
75 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp melted coconut oil/olive oil
75 – 125 ml water (to achieve desired consistency)
1 roasted garlic clove (that was roasted along with your sweet potato fries- easy!)
A pinch of salt
A couple of tsp of chopped fresh herbs to garnish (parsley and chives work well)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its peel and pulse a food processor, together with tahini, lemon juice, oil, salt and 75 ml of water. Add more water if desired, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve the consistency you want.
  2. When smooth and of the desired consistency, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle over fresh herbs. Serve with Dukkah Crusted Chunky Sweet Potato Fries/falafel/on sandwiches as a spread, etc.

MissMarzipan_tahini_dip_roast_garlic_sml