Archives August 2015

The perfect zesty green smoothie

Green smoothies can either taste great or taste like lawn clippings (well, what I imagine lawn clippings would taste like!) so I’ve been playing around to get the perfect combination of taste and green factor 🙂 I think the key is getting a balance of fruit plus something to give it a little zing, and currently my favourite is mint.  Mint is a refreshing herb and this definitely comes through in the drink.  I find this smoothie to be both invigorating and satisfying – kind of like a coffee pick me up but without caffeine.  If you don’t like green smoothies, then don’t worry – there are plenty of other opportunities to get your vegetable intake up.  Smoothies are just one way.

This smoothie is zesty, yet just sweet enough.  It’s creamy, but refreshing.  This makes a filling smoothie that will bump up your fruit and vegetable intake for the day.

Apologies for the average photos – these are from my phone rather than my camera.

Ingredients for one zesty green smoothie:

1/4 avocado
1/2 a large banana  (or one small)
2-3 leaves of kale (I used 2 small leaves of cavolo nero), hard stalks removed
1 kiwi fruit
small handful of mint leaves
1 dessert spoon chia seeds
1/3 cup natural unsweetened yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt)
1/3 cup water

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Enjoy!

New food reviews – what I’ve been trying lately

It’s been a while since I shared with you some of the new products I’ve tried, so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been testing out lately.

  1. Sirena Tuna Slices

I’m trying to practice what I preach and make more of an effort to eat two serves of fish a week – this habit has slipped a little over winter. Tuna is an easy lunch option and I’m enjoying these Sirena tuna slies.   This tuna is a little fancier than your usual tuna.  It’s packed in slices rather than flaked and I’m loving this style as it’s nice to bite into and it doesn’t fall off all over the place.  The tuna is also sustainably caught.  It was a bit more expensive than your normal tuna, I can’t remember exactly how much, but I think it was around $3.50 which is pretty reasonable anyway.

2.  Genoese Chunky Pesto Dip



This is my number one favourite pesto.  Stirred through mushrooms, spread on toast, added to scrambled egg – there are so many ways to use it and its worth the price.  It’s made with olive oil, cashews, basil, parmesean cheese and garlic and it tastes fantastic.  There are no preservatives.  A large 250g punnet costs about $9 but it lasts quite a while.  It comes in a smaller size too.

3. Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Herbs and Spices

I received these in the mail yesterday which is good timing because my herb garden is looking a bit sad since it’s winter.  These herbs and spices are lightly dried – so kind of an in between fresh, in between dried, and they last for four weeks once open when stored in the fridge.  I had the basil and parsley on my eggs this morning and they added a great flavour.  Check them out at your local supermarket.

4.  Foundation Foods Chicken Stock

This is a good quality chicken stock made with no added salt or flavour enhancers, and it’s a similar price to your supermarket stocks.  I’ve used this in soups and the beef one in casseroles and it adds a great flavour.  I bought this at Moore Wilsons, but I think it is also stocked at some supermarkets around the country, including Pak n Save.

4. J Friend and Co Honey

This range of honey is something I’m loving right now.  Each jar has the name of the bee keepers and where it came from which is a nice touch.  The flavours are delicious – each tastes slightly different to the other.  At the moment, my favourite is the lightly flavoured creamy kamahi honey. It’s delicious on hot crunch, Vogels toast for a bit of a treat. You can buy it online here.

5. Mother Earth Peanut Butter

This has been out for a wee while now and it was on special so I thought I’d give it a go. I was impressed with the flavour and also with how the oil was fairly evenly distributed.  Because natural peanut butters have no emulsifiers, the oil separates from the nuts sometimes and I find often by the time I get to the bottom of the jar, it’s really dry, but this stayed pretty well mixed.  Also the shape of the jar makes it easy to stir the peanut butter.  Would definitely buy this again. Nice crunch factor 🙂

Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts?


Chocolate round up review

If there was one food that I had to name as my favourite sweet treat, it would most definitely be chocolate.  Chocolate has become quite the boutique business, and today there are many brands to choose from that are organic, or use alternative sweeteners.  In the name of research, this year I’ve given myself the fun task of trying out some of the different brands so I can be well informed on letting you know what’s delicious and what’s so-so.  This is of course, just my opinion, so feel free to try them out for yourself and please comment in the comments section below on your favourite chocolates!



Dark Chocolates


For a fair trade, organic product, Trade Aid chocolate was a fairly good buy.   It contains just a few simple ingredients, cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter and emulsifier.  It also has decomposable packaging which I’ve never seen before. The flavour is nice, but it’s not my preferred choice for dark chocolate.  It doesn’t have the smoothness of other chocolates, and it doesn’t melt in your mouth the same as some other brands. I know some people really love this, but it’s not my top pick for flavour.

$3.99 for 100g bar

 Lindt 85% Cocoa

Lindt dark 80% cocoa is the lowest sugar of the supermarket brands of dark chocolate I’ve looked at. Generally, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar.   It’s my favourite of the over 80% cocoa bars too.  I love the thin, large squares and I find the bite and melt in the mouth factor the best. It contains burbon vanilla bean and this gives it a lovely flavour.  Being high in cocoa, this chocolate is higher than milk chocolate in the antioxidant flavanols, linked to positive health benefits.

$3.99 for 100g bar

This would be my second favourite dark chocolate chocolate.  It has a really smooth, rich flavour and is slightly sweeter than the Lindt chocolate.  It’s also fair trade and organic.  The price per bar is around $3.99.

If you’re not a fan of super dark chocolate, then this dark chocolate might be the one for you.  Milk Whittakers (which would have to be one of my favourite chocolates BTW) is 33% cocoa, so this has 30% more cocoa, but is still sweeter and less bitter than higher percentage dark chocolates.  This has a lovely flavour with some sweetness too.  But to be honest, if I’m having dark chocolate, I prefer it quite dark and bitter, and if I want a sweeter chocolate I prefer milk chocolate.  I use this chocolate in cooking when I want a rich, sweet flavour.

$4.40 for a 250g block.

Speciality “wholefood focus” Chocolates

Loving Earth luvju

I’d been wanting to try Loving Earth chocolate for a while, and on a trip to Wellington last year I bought this one.  I actually really wanted the salted caramel but they’d sold out (SOB!!)  Creamy, smooth and coconutty is the three words I’d use to describe this.  I loved the texture, smooth, melt in the mouth chocolate.  But I couldn’t decide if I liked the coconut flavour.  It was pleasant, but I’m not sure I’d get this flavour again.   I’d love to try some of the other flavours too – they’re not all made with coconut milk.

The chocolate is sweetened with coconut nectar, a low GI sweetener.  It is also made with raw cacao which has higher antioxidant levels.

They’ve recently changed their packaging and size of the bars.  A 30g bar is around $4.99

Pana Chocolate

Image from Pana Chocolate instagram

I really wanted to like Pana Chocolate.  I love their packaging.  Their instagram is beautiful.  It’s handmade.  It uses quality ingredients.  I’ve tried mint, fig and orange and coconut and goji.  But I’m gonna be honest.  I just don’t love it.  It doesn’t have the texture of your usual chocolate bar.  It’s kind of fudgey almost.  I know lots of people love it, but I’m not one of them.  Please let me know how you feel about it!  Am I the only one that isn’t a fan?  Of all the flavours, mint would have been my favourite.  It’s expensive but I can understand why, being handmade with organic, quality ingredients.  Depending where you buy it, it’s between $7-$10 for a 45g bar.

Boutique chocolate

Wellington Chocolate Factory Salted Brittle Caramel

This salted brittle caramel chocolate by Wellington Chocolate Factory was an award winning product at the Cuisine Artisan awards, and I can see why.  It was super delicious.  From all the boutiquey type chocolates and flavours I’ve tried, this is my favourite.  The caramel pieces are on the bottom of the chocolate and are crunchy, sweet and have just the right amount of saltiness (in my opinion) and the chocolate is dark (70%) and smooth.  The chocolate is organic and ethically traded too.

It’s not cheap, but it’s so worth it for a special treat. $13.50 for an 85g bar.

Wellington Chocolate Factory Peanut Butter Raspberry Bar

I love peanut butter, and I love raspberry, so I was keen to try this flavour. Turns out I don’t love peanut butter and raspberry in chocolate.  If you’re a fan of other peanut butter chocolates, then you’d probably enjoy this. The peanut butter is from Wellington brand Fix and Fogg which I love.  The chocolate is dark and rich and quite delicious, but I’m just not a fan of peanut butter in the chocolate.

The bar is $6 for 40g bar.



Lowest sugar dark chocolate – Lindt 85% dark
My favourite dark: Lindt
My favourite boutique/speciality brand: Wellington Chocolate Company Dark Chocolate
Favourite milk chocolate: not pictured, but I love Whittakers milk chocolate and Lindt milk chocolate too.

What are your favourite chocolates?


Spiced cauliflower soup with poached chicken

Soup is the ultimate winter comfort food and this spiced cauliflower soup with poached soup is a nourishing, filling soup that is a new favourite in my home.

Soup can often be low on protein and a little light as a complete meal, but this soup is an exception.  It contains both legumes (split yellow peas) and chicken which bump up the protein content and make this a filling, nourishing lunch.  Split peas are a highly nutritious source of both carbohydrate and protein. They’re high in fibre which feeds our good bacteria and also provide a source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium and iron.  They’re something we should aim to include in our diets regularly, and this soup is an easy way to do just that.

This soup is topped with some spiced seeds that add a lovely crunch and add some healthy fats.

This recipe was adapted from the Donna Hay winter edition 2015

Here’s the recipe.

Spiced cauliflower soup with poached chicken


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
500g cauliflower, chopped into pieces
1 cup yellow split peas
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
cracked pepper
1.5 L salt reduced chicken stock
2 x 150g chicken breasts, cut in quarters.

Spiced seeds:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cashew nuts, chopped
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprikia

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat.  Add the spices and cook for about 30 seconds, stiring.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Place the onion/garlic spice mix into a large pot along with the cauliflower pieces.  Rinse the split peas well and add to the pot along with the cashew nuts, cracked pepper and chicken stock.  Heat over a high heat until it comes to the boil, then reduce to medium and cook for 35 minutes or until the split peas are cooked.  Add the chicken breasts to the soup, and return to the heat for around 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the soup from the heat, and leave to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.  Remove the chicken and set aside, leave to cool slightly and shred.   Blend the soup using a stick blender.

To make the seeds:

Heat the oil over a medium pan and add the cashew nuts and seeds.  Sprinkle over the spices, and stir for a minute.  Take off the heat.

To serve, top with chicken and seeds.

Vanilla and Fig Bliss Balls

A while ago I bought some Vanilla Clean Lean protein for my smoothies, but since it’s been pretty cold, I’ve not really been in the mood for smoothies. So I decided to find another use for my protein powder – bliss balls! These babies are made with wholefood ingredients and use less dried fruit than many bliss ball recipes because the protein powder adds sweetness (it’s sweetened with a natural, sugar-free sweetener).

If you don’t like figs, then you can use extra dates, but the figs do really give them a lovely flavour.   Figs are a source of fibre, calcium and potassium too.

Dusted in cocoa or dark chocolate, these bliss balls are a delicious flavour combination that make a nice sweet treat.   If you don’t have protein powder, you could add extra coconut, but the vanilla flavour will not be as strong.

Here’s the recipe for vanilla and fig bliss balls:
3 dried figs
2 medjool dates (or 4 dried dates, soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water)
1 1/2 cups cashews
1/2 cup coconut
1 serve of Clean Lean Vanilla protein powder
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
To coat:  cocoa or grated dark chocolate

Chop up the figs and dates into small pieces and place in a food processor or blender with the cashew nuts. Blend until the nuts are finely ground and mixed up with the fruit. You may need to stop the blender and stir to ensure the mixture is ground evenly. Next, add the protein powder, chia seeds, water, vanilla and melted coconut oil and blend until mixed. Add a little extra water if required to help bind the ingredients.
Roll into balls, then dust with cocoa or grated dark chocolate. Enjoy!