There’s A New Braai Accessory & You Have To Have It!

There’s a bunch of clever lads who’ve got together and started Easy Braai Shop, selling all manner of braai accessories, including their own brand new braai creations, which are very exciting! Particularly for the vegans and vegetarians among us – we now get to keep our veg entirely separate from the meat on the grill!

I gave the Easy Braai Grill Mat a test drive last weekend with some friends, and we’re all thoroughly impressed.

grill-mat

The above pretty much speaks for itself, and I feel like there’s almost nothing this mat can’t do on the braai grill. Best of all, if you’re going to a mate’s place for a braai and your BYO is something veggie or that is difficult to manage on a braai grill, just bring this little guy along with you – it’s lighter than air, and you can even cut it to size so that you own that one corner of the braai, like a boss!

This was our braai on the weekend…

easy-braai-grill-mat

We used the whole Grill Mat on the Weber to cook potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and tuna, and everything was succulent and delicious!

I could continue to wax lyrical about my new favourite foodie toy, but you need to know one of the best parts about it, and that’s the price – it’s only R129, folks! Who needs frying pans and expensive electricity? My summer dinners are going to involve a whole lot of outdoor cooking!

WIN a R1,000 voucher to shop at Easy Braai Shop via Lucky Liz!

easy-braai-shop

Shop online for the finest braai accessories!

TO ENTER:
SMS the word EASYBRAAI followed by your name and email address to 33903.

SMS charged at R1.50. No free minutes apply.
Competition duration: 7 November 2016 – 5 December 2016.
Terms & Conditions

The guys at Easy Braai Shop are also launching another nifty product very soon, called The Braai Basket – it’s a stainless steel basket that hooks onto the inside of your braai, with a heat resistant handle, which lets you cook veggies or other goodies that you can’t or don’t want to cook on the grill itself. I’m eager to try out this little beaut as well! Watch this space!

Find Easy Braai Shop online:
Website | StoreFacebook

Permaculture Courses In South Africa

I recently stumbled across Hope Permaculture Farm on Facebook, and got in touch with Belinda to find out more, because this is something I’ve had an interest in for a while, but hadn’t really looked into until now.

Belinda answered my questions, which I wanted to share with you, because I think these are the basics that we all need to understand…

Please explain the what and why of Permaculture to a complete newbie?

Permaculture is Permanent Agriculture – a sustainable food production system that improves soil quality, adds nutrients, and naturally protects plants from pests and disease. Permanent Culture – the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing food, energy, shelter and other needs in a reproducible way. Permaculture follows 3 core ethics – Care of the Earth, Care of the People and Return of surplus or Fair Share. 

How easy is it to set up and maintain a Permaculture garden in your average urban home?

It is very easy, and is all about the design.  The design should be right from the word go so that everything works together – no system stands alone – everything is connected. Once you have a design and start implementation thereof, it’s 90% work, but thereafter it becomes 10% work.  The maintenance of this garden is easy and not intensive once the initial design is implemented and the layout done.

Thanks for the easy-to-understand replies, Belinda!

I did also ask about the course topics that are covered, but it’s a huge list! The topics are covered on the home page of their website, though, if you’d like to have a look.

Hope Permaculture Farm teaches and follows the Designers Manual by Bill Mollison – an Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, biologist, and considered to be the “father of permaculture” [Wikipedia]. Their courses are all Internationally Recognised or Accredited, and they are the home of the Permaculture Research Institute for Southern Africa, which is a registered Non-Profit Company.

They’re also involved in a number of community projects in their area, PLUS, they produce wonderful organic skincare and home cleaning products! Take a look at their Victorian Garden and Probac offerings. Belinda is also offering 30% off some of the Victorian Garden products, including postage, for a limited time! Get in touch for more info: hopepermaculturefarm@gmail.com.

But wait… There’s more!

Belinda is offering Foodevotion readers a whopping R1,300 discount on an intensive Permaculture Intro and Design Course! Instead of the full cost of R5,500 for the course, Foodevotion readers will only pay R4,200 when quoting “Foodevotion” when making your booking.

permaculture-south-africa

I hope that some of you will take advantage of this great offer – I know I would go if I could, and hopefully I will get to do so in the future!

Thanks again, Belinda, for your time, your special offer, the great work you do and the wonderful products you produce 🙂

Healthy Sweet Treats & Snacks – Free Recipes

Can delicious snacks actually be good for you?

Remember sneaking into the kitchen when you were young to steal a snack when Mom wasn’t looking? Well, those days might be over if Carolyn Hansen gets her way. She has come up with a set of 100 snack recipes that will have Mothers everywhere positively encouraging their children to dig in!

The reason? The ingredients. No sugar, flour or butter to be found in these recipes – just raw healthy foods that Carolyn likes to call living. No cooking either, which makes preparation a snap. All a Mom need be proficient with in the kitchen to keep her kids satisfied is a blender. That’s the conclusion Carolyn reaches in her book, 100 Healthy Raw Snacks And Treats (that one isn’t free, but keep reading…)

At first glance you might be tempted to think that snacks prepared without sugar and butter might taste like the experimental designs that Mom came up with in your youth, when she ran low on those items and couldn’t get to the store. If you share the same memories of those bold snack alternatives that I do, you might be quick to dismiss the idea of a tasty snack that foregoes the ingredients that we know contribute to chronic disease in later life. Too much sugar and butter in the diet are prime causes of obesity, diabetes and coronary disease.

Carolyn Hansen knew this when she went into her kitchen years ago to find alternatives to the snacks she found so difficult to remove from her diet. As a competing bodybuilder, she was determined to find a way to keep herself from ruining her progress in the gym by binging on unhealthy snacks when her willpower wore down.

At first the going was difficult – it turns out that there are a lot of things to take into account when you begin throwing out the staple ingredients of recipes thousands of years old. There were a lot of missteps along the way, but Carolyn persevered, and in the end she came up with snacks that she could share with her bodybuilder friends – snacks that you can share with your family and friends and know that you are contributing to the maintenance of their health, not only today but for years to come.

So, if you want to get your hands on recipes for snacks and treats that you will not need to feel guilty about eating the next time you have a craving for something delicious, be sure to check out Carolyn Hansen’s book, 100 Healthy Raw Snacks And Treats, where she shows you how to take control of your blender and churn out mouth-watering snacks that will have the kids in your neighbourhood lining up around the block for a sample!

THE FREE RECIPES

20-healthy-raw-snacks-small

Hi, It’s Carolyn Hansen here, author of 100 Healthy Raw Snacks And Treats.

If you have been struggling to find a way to come up with tasty snacks that are not only healthy for you, but are also easy to prepare, then I have great news for you. I have designed more than 100 of these snack and treat recipes which contain no sugar, only raw ingredients containing natural sweeteners.

To showcase these recipes I have prepared a NEW set of 20 recipes which you can use right now at absolutely no cost to you. 20 Healthy Raw Snacks And Treats is my gift to you.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Apple Balls
  3. Apple Seed Health Slice
  4. Banana Bars
  5. Blueberry Slice
  6. Carrot and Raisin Bar
  7. Cashew Cream
  8. Cashew Cream Bars
  9. Cinnamon Raisin Bars
  10. Coconut Orange Chocolate Squares
  11. Date Nut Dream
  12. Extra Energy Orbs
  13. Fridge cookies
  14. Fudge
  15. Kiwi Lime Bars
  16. Nut and Seed Bars
  17. Goji Bars
  18. Sweet Earth Cookies
  19. Raw Food “Candy”
  20. Lemon Chewies
  21. Orange Carrot Bars
  22. Final Word

Get it free HERE!

Coffee Lovers, I Took One For The Team

If you don’t already know it, Nespresso has opened a (stunningly beautiful) boutique store at Gateway, and I was one of the lucky bloggers invited to the launch to check it out.

Etienne Benet Nespresso Gateway

Etienne Benet, Nespresso Regional Manager Middle East, Africa and Caribbean, with Baristas

Being far more of a tea drinker, I don’t usually pay attention to all things coffee, so this was pretty informative for me. I have to say I was quite amazed at not only the range of different coffees available, but also the creative ways of making and serving something that is more than just a good cup of Joe.

Nespresso Recipes

These are some of the cool (see what I did there?) coffee recipes on the Nespresso website. And would you look at that – coffee cocktails! These four are also vegan friendly, and the sugar can be substituted with a natural sweetener. Click the image to see the whole collection of recipes.

We got to sample some of the delicious Nespresso coffees, served by the friendly and knowledgeable Baristas in store. They really know their stuff and are such a pleasure to chat to.

Nespresso Barista

Thanks to Stewart Brown, Nespresso SA Director, for explaining the recycling process, which I was particularly curious about. You’re given a free recycling bag with your coffee purchase at the Nespresso boutique (which holds 100 of the aluminium capsules if I remember correctly) which you return to the store and drop into the recycling “bin”. Oricol then takes over, the aluminium and coffee grounds are separated, the aluminium heads to a smelter to be re-used, and the coffee grounds are composted using vermiculture (worm farming) to produce a high quality fertiliser for organic farming. I think that’s pretty neat! And Stewart said that Nespresso clients have really bought into this process, and they can empty the recycling bins up to three times a day. Good on ya, people!

We each left with a beautiful gift of a Nespresso travel mug. My old faithful travel mug died a leaky death a few months ago, so this gorgeous 345ml specimen was welcomed with open arms. I may even have cradled it lovingly for a moment.

Nespresso Travel Mug

You can get your very own Nespresso travel mug for R275 at the boutique store.

For those of you who don’t call Durban home, you can find Nespresso boutiques at the V&A Waterfront, Canal Walk, Sandton City, Hyde Park Corner and Menlyn Park Shopping Centre.

So there you have it, coffee lovers. I hope you appreciate this tea drinker’s efforts in bringing you this wonderful news. Now go forth and savour the Nespresso experience.

I Don't Always Drink Coffee...

Refreshing, Homemade Iced Tea

When made right, homemade iced tea is just so many things – tasty, refreshing and thirst quenching (especially in our tropical coastal climate), sugar-free, low to no caffeine, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, fights free radicals, gives you natural energy, and aids in weight loss. What’s not to love?

Bonus: You can even add wine to it for a unique sangria style drink, or use it as a base for punch or cocktails. Ha!

I’ve never kept fizzy drinks at home, and since I now read ingredients labels to know what I’m putting into my body, I’ve gone off store-bought fruit juices which used to be my staple cold drink. So I started making iced tea about two months ago, and it’s become a really fun flavour experiment, too.

Homemade Iced Tea

 

The basics of my homemade iced tea consists of:

2 litres filtered or spring water
2 green tea teabags
1/2 a lemon, sliced
1/2 an orange, sliced
4 slices of fresh ginger, bruised
1 – 2 Tbsp honey or other natural sweetener

The additional teas are part of what creates your individual flavours.

For example, add one fruit tea or other flavoured teabag of your preference – I’ve used watermelon and mint, peach and apricot, cranberry and pomegranate, and a mixed berry fruit tea. Go a step further and add another dimension with another flavour – my most recent was the above basics plus one peach and apricot teabag plus one spiced chai teabag – it had a real zing to it!

The additional fruits and herbs add yet more flavour and character.

I like to stick with what I’ve already added, so for instance with the watermelon and mint tea, add some fresh mint to the pot, and freeze some roughly chopped fresh watermelon to use as ice cubes. Depending on what you have on hand or is easy to get, the combinations are almost endless. Think fresh lemongrass, rosemary or lavender. Fresh strawberries which bring flavour, sweetness and tartness. Cloves or cinnamon sticks and fresh apple. Organic, sugar-free preserves if you can get your hands on them. Vanilla extract. And so much more!

The method is super simple:

Bomb all your ingredients into a big pot and bring it to the boil. Turn the heat off and leave the pot to cool. Strain the tea so that you leave all the big bits behind, but don’t forget to give them a squeeze before throwing them away (or adding them to your compost heap), to get that extra liquid and flavour out of them. Decant and refrigerate.

Cheers!

Zero Effort Weight Loss. Results Guaranteed!

I couldn’t resist that heading, because it always sounds too good to be true. But, is it?

My answer is: No. Here’s a brief preamble…

In July of 2015, I re-embarked on a simple mission of making daily breakfast smoothies for my family, to up our nutrient intake. This was a direct result of my bestie encouraging me to get back into the smoothie habit (I’d been out of it for some time, and my then lifestyle of working in hospitality wasn’t very conducive to good eating habits). A secondary result of this renewed habit was unintentionally becoming more aware of the actual ingredients and their nutrients, which made me rethink a lot in terms of what we eat and the effect it has on our bodies. So I started making a few other small changes here and there.

AND THE WEIGHT JUST FELL OFF ME.
Literally.
I lost almost 10kg in under 3 months.
With. Zero. Effort.

I have a small confession to add at this point – I’m what’s known as an ectomorph.

The ectomorph can be easily spotted in any weight room. They are often below the average weight for their height and have a skinny appearance. Ectomorphs tend to have very high metabolisms and often complain of relentless eating with little to no weight gain.

Yup. I’m that skinny girl that got teased relentlessly at school. Much the same as the overweight girls, just opposite. And if you think that me hearing, “OMG, you’ve lost so much weight!” is less offensive than an overweight person hearing, “OMG, you’ve put on so much weight!” – you are wrong.

Back to the point, though. That being: Zero Effort Weight Loss. Results Guaranteed.

I’m selling you something here, so let me be clear about that, because you will have to spend money. BUT, it’s pretty much the same money that you spend every day/week/month on your grocery shopping. Just with a few small changes. What I’m selling you is healthier eating habits. What you will get in return is weight loss – whether that’s your target or not.

Healthy Weight Loss

This is how I did it.

  1. Daily raw food and superfood smoothies.
  2. Cut out all refined sugars.
  3. Eat brown rice instead of white, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread, and so on.
  4. Eat more raw food meals.
  5. Eat more plant based meals.
  6. Eat healthier snacks between meals.

These are all VERY EASY things to implement into your daily life. I mean, you have to shop, prepare food and eat anyway, right? And with so much focus on healthy eating these days, there’s zero extra effort in finding the right ingredients. I saw a quote the other day that went along the lines of, if they call it the “health food” aisle in supermarkets, what is the other stuff they’re selling?

Here’s some more info and tips on the above six points…

1. Daily raw food and superfood smoothies. Here are some raw food smoothie basics to help you out if this is something new to you. To make life easier, I chop all my smoothie fruit and veg and freeze it in one cup portions which I just grab out the freezer every morning. Blitz it all and brekkie is done. You don’t even need any special equipment – until I was gifted a nice blender, I was using my trusty old food processor, and when that broke, my stick blender.

2. Cut out all refined sugars. My reasons for cutting sugar out of my diet were from a health perspective, but this is a big culprit if you’re trying to lose weight. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything sweet ever again – there are so many natural options available to replace sugar with (and yes, you will find some of them in your supermarket’s “health aisle”). My preferred ones are natural raw honey or organic coconut sugar. You can also make healthy sweet treats at home, and here’s a super quick and easy recipe for Chocolate Nicecream (‘nana ice-cream): To your blender add 6 chopped bananas, 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder, 200ml coconut milk or other non dairy milk, 1 tablespoon honey. Blitz and freeze and you can satisfy a sweet craving by just reaching into the freezer!

As an aside on dairy… This is something I’m also trying to cut out of my diet. Again, there are a number of options for substitutions, such as nut milk, vegan butter and vegan cheese, all of which can be made at home with ingredients that are easy to find. And again, my reasons are health based. This is what it comes down to for me…

dairy milk ingredients

3. Eat brown rice instead of white, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread, and so on. It’s just a matter of switching to the healthier options – another example is sweet potato instead of regular potato. There are also other yummy types of food in this category such as quinoa and couscous.

4. Eat more raw food meals. Get creative with things like salads and wraps. A Google search for “easy raw recipes” will give you loads of results, like this one. I try to do “raw ’till four” and then have a cooked meal in the evening.

5. Eat more plant based meals. Once you start eating healthier, you might find, as I did, that your body copes less well with meat based meals. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy family favourites such as bolognese and mac ‘n cheese, you just have to substitute meat for plants. An added bonus is that it becomes more budget friendly!

6. Eat healthier snacks between meals. Probably the easiest go-to options, especially when you’re not at home, are nuts and fresh fruits. You can even make your own trail mix with your choice of nuts, seeds and dried berries, all easily available. Guacamole on crackers is always a winner, and for a sweeter option, one of my current favourites is organic nut butter spread onto slices of apple.

These small and easy changes in your diet WILL contribute to weight loss. Exercise also helps, although I wasn’t doing any while all the weight was falling off me. Bear in mind the difference in our metabolisms as well, so each person’s results will vary, that’s perfectly normal. I’m no nutritionist, so you also need to take into account any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies that you may have. For example, a friend of mine who’s recovering from cancer is now also going for healthier dietary options, but has discovered that spinach isn’t good for his kidneys.

Most of all, have fun with it! I’m really enjoying discovering new ingredients and recipes that were previously outside my comfort zone, and reinventing the old classics, while knowing that I’m putting the GOOD stuff into my body.

As Pixie says, “Every meal is a chance to heal!

Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese

Yesterday, I came across a vegan Mac ‘n Cheese recipe. I poo-poo’d it because when I took a look at the recipe, it called for almond milk or some such other overpriced and/or not easily attainable ingredient.

But it got stuck in my mind. Because I do love me a good Mac ‘n Cheese, and I’ve been avoiding it since I’ve been avoiding all things dairy.

Hunger – and a huge love/craving for Mac ‘n Cheese –  got the better of me, though, so by late afternoon I rubbed my keyboard and called up the genie that is Google. And she delivered!

As is par for the course, I made a few of my own adjustments. I also didn’t have and/or couldn’t get, at the last minute, some of the ingredients. Still, this turned out so much better than I thought it would!

vegan mac n cheese

1 onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 punnet mushrooms, sliced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced (unpeeled if organic)
1 cup water (liquid from the pot of boiled potato and carrot)
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast*
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried herbs of choice
Salt and pepper to taste, and/or garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika
2.5 cups macaroni (I like and used wholewheat)
3 small tomatoes, sliced (or a punnet baby/rosa tomatoes**)

*I didn’t have nutritional yeast, so I used mock parmesan cheese. I didn’t honestly think it would work as well as it did!

**I couldn’t get the baby beauties for the first attempt at this recipe, so I sliced “normal” tomatoes and laid them on top of the dish, as you can see. However, if you can get the miniatures, blister them hard and fast in a pan on high heat, and then mix them into the whole dish as you finish it off – they give the best “tart pop” ever!

  1. Boil your potato and carrot for about 10 minutes, until it’s soft enough to be blended.
  2. Boil your macaroni until al dente.
  3. Fry your onion and mushroom over a medium heat with your oil of choice, until about 80% done. Set aside.
  4. If using baby tomatoes, blister them as described above.
  5. Put the potato, carrot and the rest of your ingredients into a blender and blend into a smooth sauce.
  6. In an oven proof dish, mix together the pasta, onion, mushrooms, blistered tomatoes, and sauce. If using bigger tomatoes, lay the slices on top. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast (or other vegan cheese of your choice) and breadcrumbs over the top, and bake for about 15 minutes.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.