A Faithful Companion: Chocolate and Macadamia Fudge Brownies

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✔Refined Sugar Free

✔Gluten Free

✔vegan (optional)

Diamonds, men or chocolate?

I hope I speak for more than myself when I say CHOCOLATE. Diamonds cost a load and men are often useless. It holds no grudges and provides unlimited satisfaction and a no-strings-attached shoulder to cry on.

What is it about the damn cocoa bean? Its like a delicious and exotic love affair that later leaves you feeling like an almighty blimp. Swap around the last two vowels in cocoa and you have a whole different story. I use raw cacao in smoothies, sauces, biscuits and cakes and it has truly transformed my usual guilty chocolate consumption into a staple of my Thrive diet.

The cacao bean is rich in energy minerals, magnesium and sulfur which keeps your hail shiny, nails strong and helps keep your liver healthy! Powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, which are basically natural antioxidants (three times the antioxidant content of green tea!).

Prep time: 10 minutes + Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes 10 brownies

You will need

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla essence
  • 3 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup macadamias
  • 2 eggs OR 1/4 cup of water (vegan)

How to

  1. Preheat oven to 160Cº Fan forced
  2. Place the dates and 2 tbsp of water into a food processor and pulse until a smooth mixture is formed
  3. Combine almond meal, cacao, vanilla essence and agave syrup with an electric whisker until smooth
  4. Gently melt the coconut butter over a low heat and add into the mixture along with the egg OR water (vegan option)
  5. Smash the macadamias with a rolling pin or pulse until the desired texture is formed and add into the mixture (leaving some aside to sprinkle onto the mixture before baking)
  6. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking tin (the size is up to you depending on how thick you would like your brownies) and sprinkle a handful of the macadamia crumble on top
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and leave aside to cool for 10 minutes

Its that simple. Keep Thriving! ♥ Anya

Pho the love of soup: Vegan, crunchy goodness

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   ✔Refined Sugar Free

✔Gluten Free

✔vegan

So I don’t know about you, but my idea of the perfect meal is something thats quick and easy to make, healthy and delicious. Finding the balance between all three is often a difficult task. Fear not- I have the perfect solution pho you (heheh).

The crunchier the veg, the more nutrition it retains…so keep those veggies crunchy. Bok choy is an understated vegetable, very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and works as a catalyst for burning calories and increasing weight lose. Do not underestimate the power of the mushroom either, high in vitamins B12 nd D,low in kilo joules and filling. It ticks all the super food requirements- nutrient-rich,  low in kilo joules, high in bio-active compounds, antioxidants, convenient and affordable. I ♥ mushrooms.

Tofu is an excellent source of vegetarian protein and a cholesterol-free food (as a most plant-based foods). 

As for the chili, ginger and garlic…your practically eating The Three Musketeers of the speeding up metabolism and reducing body fat revolution.

Most of us know that white rice=little nutrition so obviously the same applies to rice noodles, however the rice-to-veggie ratio (almost all veg+tofu) I use works to provide a subtle amount of carb-energy, keep you full that little bit longer and provide texture. Bean sprouts are just as delicious so it just depends how carb-conscious you really are.

Prep:10 minutes + cooking: 10 minutes

Serves 2

You will need

  • 3 stalks of bok choy
  • 3 mushrooms
  • 3 small pieces of broccoli
  • 1 spring onion stalk
  • a small handful of vermicelli noodles OR bean sprouts
  • 200 grams tofu
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp gluten free, reduced salt soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes OR 1 fresh chili
  • 2 tsps coconut butter
  • 4 cups water

How to

  1. Chop up all your vegetables and throw them into a wok on a medium heat with one tsp of coconut butter
  2. Dice the tofu into small cubes and put into a frying pan, again with 1 tsp of coconut butter and 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  3. Add the ginger, chili and garlic into the wok after the vegetables have cooked for 5 minutes
  4. Boil 4 cups of water and pour into the wok
  5. Add the remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable stock and noodles then leave to cook for a further 5 minutes
  6. Dish up the soup into bowls, add the tofu and chop up some spring onion to sprinkle on top.

Note: Coriander also tastes delicious sprinkled on top. If your using bean sprouts just add them to the wok at the same time as you would noodles but no further cooking is required.

Its that simple.

Keep Thriving! ♥ Anya

Cake With A Kick: Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes with Avocado “Creamy” Frosting

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cakes 4

   ✔Refined Sugar Free

✔ Gluten Free

So right now I’m going though a seriously chronic case of post-holiday depression but sadly I don’t think the doctors wold find it particularly prescription worthy. Instead I spend every waking moment of my free time (when I’m not undertaking high doses of retail therapy) baking.

I love delectable biscuits, slices and cakes as much as the next person but I generally (until now) opt to steer clear of them for obvious reasons. There is so much to love about the taste and textures of freshly baked treats but we all know that the nutritional value is nothing to get excited about. However I really NEED cake during this time of acclimatizing to back regular life after 6 months of travelling and spending time back  traipsing in between relatives in England.

These cakes are in-fact not only just an easy way to avoid carborific and sugar loaded treats but they actually contain SUPER FOODS that are packed with nutritional ingredients. Chili contains the same amount of Vitamin C as oranges and works to boost your metabolism and speed up the weight loss process. I use avocado as a cream substitute for the frosting.. the creamy high-fat content and its obscure flavour works really well with sweet recipes as well as savoury. As for the health benefits of avocado, what a gem of a fruit! Thank-you God for Avo. Did you know that if you were plonked on a random dessert island with nothing but avocado and your own skin to eat you would survive (eating your own skin not necessary)! Its high in fiber, sodium and cholesterol-free, provides 20 essential nutrients, vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins and is rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids). Bloody hell thats a list…not to mention it is known to whiten the whites of your eyes and add a shine to your hair!

Prep: 15 minutes + cooking: 20 minutes

Makes 12 cupcakes

You will need

For the cake mixture:

  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2  cup of cacao OR unsweetened dark chocolate baking cocoa
  • 60 grams 70-80 % cocoa dark chocolate
  • 4 tsps coconut butter
  • 1/4 tsp bi-carbonate soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsps honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 70 grams natural sweetener OR raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of  cacao or unsweetened dark chocolate baking cocoa
  • 20 grams 70-80 % cocoa dark chocolate
  • half a fresh chili OR 2 tsp chili flakes

How to

For the cake mixture:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160Cº and set aside a tray with 12 cupcake papers
  2. Sift together the flour and cacao then add the bi-carb, baking powder and desiccated coconut
  3. Place the chocolate and coconut butter in a saucepan over a low heat until melted
  4. Pour melted chocolate and butter into the mixture and add the honey and whisk with an electric whisk for 1 minute
  5. Heat the almond milk over a low heat for 3 minutes before taking off and stirring, it should have began to thicken by this stage.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice with the milk and pour in to the mixture (option: you can also add 1/2 a fresh chili or 1 tsp chili flakes at this point for an extra kick)
  7. Whisk the eggs and add to the mixture and proceed to whisk the mixture for an additional 2-3 minutes until smooth
  8. Scoop 1 1/2 tbsp into each cupcake holder and place into the oven for 20 minutes
  9. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes

For the chocolate frosting:

  1. Chop up the avocados and place in a mixing bowl
  2. Place the chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat until melted
  3. Add the chocolate, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cacao
  4. Mix with an electric whicker for 2 minutes
  5. Once the frosting is smooth and there are no avocado lumps
  6. Finely grate the chilli into the mixture OR add the desired amount of chilli flakes (recommended 2 tsps)
  7. Whisk for a further 1 minute

Keep Thriving! ♥ Anya

I Just Want Big Bowl of Pasta: Zuchinni Noodles w/ Spicy Tomato and Walnut Sauce

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   ✔Refined Sugar Free

✔ Gluten Free

If there is something more satisfying in this world then a big stodgy, cheesy bowl of pasta, then please, enlighten me now. My tummy grumbles at the thought of creamy mushroom ravioli or heavily laden plate of cheese and tomato pasta bake. HOWEVER, we must remember that (white) pasta is not our friend.

White pasta is predominantly made from refined white flour which contains almost no dietary nutrition. It is particularly high in GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates which releases sugars into the bloodstream at a very rapid speed. This in turn causes your blood sugars to rise which triggers a rise in insulin that works to bring your sugar levels back down to a normal level (clever I know).  But here is the part that really hurts…the body deals with the rise in blood sugars by storing the pasta as fat. Pasta is spiteful. It provides so much satisfaction and then moves on to heartlessly inhibiting those fat cells around your stomach  (the reason many people have discovered that pasta “bloats” them).

So the other day I was having one of those sitting on the couch watching movies all day kind of days and naturally all I could think of was pasta. Although I’m not entirely gluten free after largely cutting it out of my diet I genuinely feel the size of a three-story house after eating pasta. This was not an option as I had to squeeze into my skins for work that evening ( I work in a sportswear store).

So cutting a pretty damn short story shorter, I then came up with this delicious recipe for the perfect pasta craving cure. I am not claiming that this recipe out does an actual bowl of pasta but I think anything that leads you to repeatedly question if what your eating is actually healthy because its so delicious, is a success. Zucchinis are super cheap at the moment, I did a quick calculation and I came to the conclusion that a bowl of zucchini noodles works out about 0.5% more expensive than a bowl of pasta…a very small sacrifice to make for a significant on your diet.

Prep: 5-10 minutes + cooking: 15 minutes

Serves 2-3

You will need

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 Tsps chili flakes
  • 2 Tbps olive oil
  • A handful of rocket
  • 6 Pork Chipolatas
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Goats cheese (desired amount)

How to

  1. Peel off the green skin of the zucchinis with a potato peeler (its fairly bitter and looks less noodle-ish) Now keep peeling off strips until you reach the seeds then STOP
  2. If you have a griddle (if not use a non-stick frying pan)  place it over a medium heat and lay on the tomatoes (cut in half), the zuchinni “insides” (NOT THE NOODLES), the chipolatas and garlic clove
  3. Once the tomatoes are almost cooked add the walnuts for 1-2 minutes
  4. Using a blender or a food processor combine the avocado, olive oil, garlic clove, zuchinni insides, tomatoes, salt and pepper and chili flakes
  5. Place the zucchini noodles in a steamer for no more than 1 minute, they cook VERY quickly
  6. Chop up the chipolatas and combine with the sauce
  7. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss with the walnuts, goats cheese and rocket

Keep Thriving! ♥ Anya