Friday, April 8, 2011

A - Z of Amazing Fruits..... G is for Grapefruit

(image taken from

SO everyone has heard of the grapefruit diet right? Why was it so popular? Because it worked! Well, kind of... Grapefruits, when used correctly are a dieters best friend for a number of reasons. They increase the metabolic rate as well as lower insulin and are actually an appetite suppressant so incorporating them into your daily eating plan is not just good for losing weight, it’s essential. In saying that, I hate diets - so really grapefruits are everyone’s best friend as they have so many nutritional, health and wellness benefits. 
For starters, compared to other members of the citrus family and other fruits in general really, grapefruits have an extremely low calorie content. Like celery, you burn almost as many calories chewing and digesting a grapefruit as there is in the whole fruit! They are also very high in dietary fibre so keep you feeling full for longer. Make sure you eat the pith though as much of the fibre content is held in this thick white skin and the stringy bits in between the juicy, meaty segments. Many people eat grapefruits with a scoop by scooping out the flesh but be sure to eat as much of the entire fruit as possible to gain maximum nutritional benefits. This high level of natural fibre assists with the relief of constipation and therefore is a nurturing food for your digestive system, colon and bowel. 
Grapefruits are a really good liver tonic so help to eliminate toxins from the body, toxins like alcohol, antibiotics and medication residue. They are also and energizer so if you’ve ever wanted to know what the perfect ‘hangover juice’ is, you just found it! As an everyday drink, try skipping coffee and having a freshly squeezed grapefruit and lemon juice (equal parts of each) to really give your body a zesty morning boost! If you ever do a liver cleanse or detox - this mix is a must to start your day and help you kick your caffeine cravings. Seemingly conflicting with the last statement, pure grapefruit juice drunk before bed actually promotes very restful sleep and can have a very positive effect for those who suffer insomnia. 
Like the fig, grapefruits are very alkalizing. The also contain a high level of Vitamin C and potassium which aids with overall immunity boosting as well as promoting good urinary tract health. This high Vitamin C level and the fact that they are very low in sodium, they help to flush water retention and inflammation from the body which is another reason they are so popular with dieters, those with swollen joints and pregnant women. 
Add Grapefruits to your salad for a zesty change. 
I found this one on YUMMO!!!!
Ingredients - serves 4
1 cup quinoa
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced serrano pepper (the larger red chili - almost looks like a cross between a capsicum and a chili) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup minced coriander
1 shallot, minced
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups baby rocket leaves, washed and dried + 1 cup extra
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the quinoa until it has a nutty aroma. Remove from heat, rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add salt, and slowly add toasted quinoa. Cook until tender and the outer rings appear on the grains, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh colander. Place in a large bowl to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cranberries, lime juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, serrano pepper, mint, coriander, shallot, and 1cup of the rocket. Stir into the cooled quinoa and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Place 1 cup of baby rocket on each salad plate. Top with quinoa mixture, avocado, and grapefruit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The A - Z of Amazing Fruits..... F is for FIG!

(Photo taken from

People often get dates and figs mixed up which is quite odd as they do not look nor taste anything alike. They do however share some like nutritional properties, all of which are fantastic. Like the date, figs are extremely nutritious and contain many anti-cancer  enzymes and lots of immune boosting goodness. 
Figs are often associated with men’s health for their distinct look and they have been known for hundreds of years as a remedy for sexual weakness or dysfunction. What a lot of people do not know is how beneficial they are for women. Seriously high in B6 levels they are considered a mood food as they help to boost the production of serotonin which makes us feel great. Also aiding to lower cholesterol levels and reduce water retention, figs are a PMS fighting power fruit. 
From my previous blogs you should know by now that most fruits are nice and high in dietary fibre which creates a healthy digestion and helps to ward off things like bowel and colon cancer. Figs are no different and are often recommended by nutritionists to nourish and tone the colon and intestines. What makes fresh figs an amazing super power fruit is that they are one of the most alkaline fruits. Disease thrives when our bodies are in a highly acidic state, alkalizing foods balance our body’s pH and help to fight off foreign and bacterial nasties and figs do an amazing job at this. In fact studies have shown that fig leaves actually inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and dramatically lower triglyceride levels (nasty fats). 
Vegans, vegos and those with signs of osteo-arthritis should definitely incorporate figs into their diet as they have a very high calcium content and as it comes from a vegetable source it is very readily absorbed into the body. It’s other mineral highs are manganese and potassium. If you are a morning exerciser, through a fig into your morning smoothie or chop one up and add it to your cereal to replenish your potassium levels and prevent cramping through the day. 
If you’ve never eaten a fresh fig, you are in for a real treat. They are sweet, luscious and nutrient dense and just lovely to eat by themselves. They breath fresh air into a mundane salad, go amazing with rocket and grilled mushrooms on ciabatta with olive oil. Delicate and light, they are a taste sensation when combined with the strong flavours of haloumi or prosciutto. My all time favourite thing on a cheese platter is quince and fig jam or paste (and that’s not just because I don’t eat cheese!) Team it with a good glass of wine and you have Sunday arvo perfection!
The wholesome quality of this fruit alone should be enough to have you running to the fruit market. Be it sweet or savoury, fresh, dried or poached I urge you try this amazing fruit today!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A- Z of Amazing Fruits... E is for Elderberry

( Photo taken from -

E... Is for Elderberry.
Well, this is the first time I am writing about something I know absolutely nothing about. But I’ve done some extensive reading about the elderberry, its uses and benefits and hopefully have picked out the best bits of info for your reading. If you have used elderberries, please feel free to add info and especially recipes in the comments section below. One thing that was surprising while I was researching was the amount of sites dedicated solely to the Elderberry. For a little berry that I knew almost nothing about, there is a lot of love across this great planet and the info below will explain why. 
Like all fruits that have a dark reddish-purple colour, elderberries are a great source of anthocyanins which are powerful anti-oxidants (see my article on blueberries for further reference). It is this high level of anthocyanins that has a dramatic effect on a person’s immune system, boosting it to levels that quickly help to heal damaged cell tissues and reduce the symptoms of the flu and other diseases and illnesses. In 1995 the juice of elderberries was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama and in Israel, they use elderberries to treat cancer and aids patients as it has such a strong and positive effect on boosting the immune system. It has also been used to lower cholesterol, improve vision, improve heart health, fight coughs and colds as well as bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. It is not just the anthocyanin properties that have such a great medicinal effect but the fact that elderberries increase inflammatory cytokine production, hence the reason it has such a substantial effect on symptoms. They are also high in potassium and contain large amounts of vitamin C.
Be warned however, you can’t just eat these little berries by the handful like you can blueberries. Elderberries actually contain poisonous toxins that can make you quit ill and need to be cooked before eating. The berry and flower both have medically beneficial properties but all must be cooked however steer clear of the roots, stems and twigs as well as unripe berries. 
The Elderberry flower is actually very pretty and can be used by pressing into tonics and is a very popular wine and champagne brew. Like the zucchini flower it can be lightly battered and made into fritters or used as a sweetener in muffin and cake recipes. The berry itself is often made into jellies, jams, pies, baking, extracts and syrups. It’s strong colour can also be used as a dye or coloured flavouring. 
This recipe has been taken from - 
Again, I’ve never used the elderberry so am unsure as to how this will work out but from its popularity on the web, I’d say it will be a hit. Now I just need to find some to try it out!

Elderberry Grape Jelly
3 lb Elderberries
3 lb Half-ripe grapes
Wash elderberries. Remove stems. Cover with water. Cook until soft. Drain through jelly bag. Wash grapes. Remove stems. Cover with water, cook until soft. Drain through jelly bag. Combine elderberry and grape juice in equal proportions. Add 3/4 cup sugar to each cup juice. Boil rapidly until jelly sheets from spoon. (3lb is just under 1.5kg)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A - Z of Amazing Fruits - D is for Date...

I’ve been eating dates for years. I love them and especially since becoming vegan - they are apart of my daily diet. A natural sweetener, dates are widely used to replace sugar in cooking and in raw vegan dishes, they act as a wonderful sweetener and binder. Although always a strong advocate, I never the knew how astoundingly nutrient dense this fruit is until now. If you didn’t eat dates before, you had better start!
Cholesterol free and loaded natural fibre, dates are like a digestive miracle pill. They aid in the relief of many intestinal disorders, help to build up healthy gut flora and can easily relieve constipation. Because they are very easily digestible, their absorption rate is under 30 minutes (as opposed to minimum 45 minutes for a banana) and therefore you feel the benefits of dates quite quickly. Also, as they are nutrient power poppers your body will let you know when you are full a lot sooner than many other foods which decreases your chance of over eating. 
Rich in iron, they can aid in problems with anemia; as well as being high in calcium and potassium. Potassium helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and naturally lower your blood pressure as well as alleviate diarrhea. But didn’t I just say it helps with constipation? Yes indeed but as I also wrote it helps with almost all digestive ails. So basically, you eat the date and your body will figure out what you need to take from it and make it work! How good is that?
If you are worried about the sugar content and what effect it may have on your teeth, don’t. Dates are also teeming with fluorine which actually slows down the process of tooth decay, so they are great for the kids too. Not only good for the teeth, but the eyes as well. According to, the American Cancer Society claims that the consumption of 1 date per day will ‘help you maintain your healthy eyes for your lifetime’. 
Mums-to-be as well as breast feeding mothers should stock up on these sticky globs of wholesomeness. Eating in abundance towards the end of your pregnancy helps to strengthen the uterine walls which enables a smoother delivery. (Don’t quote me on that one but heaven knows I’ll be trying it when my time comes!) Their super digestibility comes into play again when mothers eat them during breastfeeding as all the nutrients can be readily absorbed and transferred directly to their baby. 
And last, but certainly not least; one of the number one reason we should be eating dates is because for hundreds of years they have been used a super tonic for enhancing sexual endurance. By soaking them overnight in goat’s milk then grinding with honey and a dash of cardamon powder, you can deftly make yourself a sweet little love potion without the scary side affects of that little blue pill. (Gives a new meaning to D is for Date!) This tonic has also been known to aid with sterility due to functional disorders.  
As mentioned earlier, dates are great in desserts and you will find numerous recipes with a simple google search. Check out my website for a bunch of great recipes and I will leave you now wit one of my favourites.
1 fresh medjool date
1 chunk of fresh sweet pineapple (about a 1 inch square)
raw cacao powder
Take one fresh medjool date and wash it well. Split it in half and remove the seed. Place the pineapple in the middle and sandwich with the date. Dip into cacao powder (as much or as little as you like) and POP straight into your mouth! Instant pineapple lump but wayyyyyyy better! Your only problem will be stopping at just one! xx

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A - Z of Amazing Fruits.... C is for Coconuts

So anyone who has read my website knows that I go completely loco for cocos! Coconuts are my all time favourite food in the world because not only are they amazingly good for you, but they can be used in so many different ways. I truly believe they are one of the most versatile foods on the planet.

If you scroll through my archive you will find a paper I wrote on Coconuts for uni which has a lot more in depth information about them. In this blog I’ll outline some of their best features, ways to use them and most importantly, how to open one - as this will make or break your friendship with the almighty coconut!

Baby coconut water has one of the highest electrolyte levels of any fruit. Drinking the water  from just one baby coconut (often called thai or drinking coconuts) is literally the equivalent of drinking 3 or 4 gatorades; without the sugary carbohydrate hit and artificial colours and flavourings. In fact, this luscious liquid is the closest thing to human blood plasma in nature and in WWII they actually used to intravenously inject the water into war victims who needed blood. Straight from shell to body! Can you imagine how good your body would feel having one of these post work out? Let me tell you... amazing!

One thing I will say is fresh is always best. I'm sure you've seen a mass of tetra packs that claim to be 100% coconut water. Some have a little added juice or pulp.... forget it. Nothing beats the real thing on flavour or nutritional value. 

But lets not stop at the water. The flesh of a baby coconut is also full of minerals, nutrients and protein. As it has not yet matured, it hasn’t had time to develop a lot of fat so adding it to smoothies, muffins, desserts and soups will not affect your daily fat intake. Coconut flesh can also be dehydrated and used in more creative vegan recipes.

Coconut oil, like avocados, is not the scary fat we are constantly lead to believe it is. I urge you to please read my full paper to discover the benefits of coconut oil.

How to open one of these bad boys....

Most people think that you need to forcibly hack through the peaked top of the coconut. WRONG....  Flip it over and cut from the base.

Cut as close to the inside shell of the nut that your can. (you will feel it as you won't be able to cut any closer)

So once you have the base off you should be able to see a little soft spot, or circle that you can just press through to get the liquid.

Use a spoon to poke through the hole and scoop away the flesh that is blocking the hole.

And now simply stick in a straw and drink it's natural goodess. Mmmmmm

 (or take a sip then add some Malibu and pineapple juice but you didn't hear that from me!)

Or, tip it into a glass and enjoy. xx 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A - Z of Amazing Fruits.... B is for Blueberry

(pic taken from

We all know that blueberries are super high in anti-oxidants, right? But isn’t just about every new super food or ancient fruit seed from the Aztecs or Brazilian Jungle? So what makes blueberries so special? Well blueberries aren’t just high in anti-oxidants, they are the highest of any fresh fruit on the planet. The blue pigmentation in blueberry skin is loaded with the anti-oxidant anthocyanin which is super powerful in the fight against many cancers, brain diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, a plethora of viruses and the dreaded curse of aging! It is for the latter that I like to call them ‘Beauty Berries’.

If you’ve seen any anti-aging cream advertisement on TV you would know that boosting the collagen levels in our skin is the most efficient way to banish wrinkles. Blueberries are not only packed full of Vitamin C but they help to enhance the effects of Vitamin C in our bodies; and it is Vitamin C that is responsible for collagen production and conservation in our skin. Therefore every mouthful of these baby blues takes you one step closer to that Catherine Zeta Jones flawlessness we all strive for.

So if that didn’t send you hurtling to the fruit isle, perhaps this will. Research done on rats ( ...i know, it makes the vegan in me shudder too) shows that a diet with a high intake of blueberries can actually reduce belly fat. Yes, specifically abdominal fat; with lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol and lower insulin sensitivity to boot!

Blueberries are also great brain food. High in selenium, among other mineral and nutrients they can aid in the prevention of late onset degenerative brain diseases and also improve your memory - look out Olivia Newton-John! These blue bubbles of goodness are also a great ‘mood food’ and contain properties that have an anti-depressant like affect, therefore helping you become a little less ‘blue’ (excuse the pun). Keep in mind that the darker the skin - the more powerful the anti-oxidant and mineral level, and Wild Blueberries are said to be the most potent of all. But alas, before you don a wicker basket and head for the hills, rest assured that many of the snap frozen varieties available from your health food store or local market are in fact wild, just be sure to check the label.

So let me just summarize this for you. By eating blueberries you can potentially become a cancer and virus fighting powerhouse with the face and body of CZJ, be smarter than Sandy and get a little bit giddy along the way! Why are you still sitting at your computer? Go! The frozen food isle beckons. xx

*Add blueberries to smoothies, salads, on top of your cereal, desserts... anything you can justify really! Or try this great recipe below:


1/2 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen - if frozen allow to thaw for 5 minutes or so)
1 ripe banana sliced
a splash of fresh lime juice (according to taste)
a handful of mint leaves

Throw all ingredients into a bowl and toss to combine.


Monday, February 21, 2011

A - Z Amazing Fruits - A is for AVOCADO....

(pic taken from

Avocados... they are truly one of the most amazing fruits on our planet so I am stoked to have them as my first entry in the A-Z files. 
Many people are scared of Avocados due to their ‘high fat content’. But as with many of the fruits, vegetables and superfoods I will highlight in this series - not all fats are bad and scary. In fact, many of the natural fats found in whole foods are ESSENTIAL... other wise known as EFA’s or Essential Fatty Acids. So yes, avocados have a high caloric content and yes they have a high fat content. BUT they DO NOT contain a high percentage of those scary fats - the saturated or trans fats; and DO contain more of those EFA’s than almost any other fruit on the planet. AND they contain a very large amount of fats that dramatically lower your cholesterol levels. So the reason many people don’t eat avo’s is exactly the reason that they should!
Now I’m not saying you should be eating avocados for breakfast lunch and dinner.(Although they are that versatile a fruit that you could! Check out my Avocado dessert below) We all know that moderation is the key and adding a smear to your sandwiches, a good chunk in your lunchtime salad or a big spoonful to thicken up a soup are great ways to enjoy this green ball of greatness. If you, like Moi however are a vegan and thus do not ingest high fat foods like animal protein, dairy, eggs, processed foods etc - you have even more reason to enjoy avocados regularly as your levels of saturated fats would naturally be quite low.
Still not convinced? How would like to feel fuller for longer and get a mass of nutrients which help to curb hunger cravings? As a natural appetite suppressant, avocados can assist with controlled weight loss. Also high in Vitamins B as well as C (for healthy plump and fuller looking skin, E (for healthy and strong hair, nails and skin) and K (rich in anti-oxidants with anti cancer properties and for a healthy liver). Lutein is an anti-oxidant that is great for eye health. It may help to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration as well as fight free radials in the body and guess what?  Avos are jammed packed full of it!
Avocados have long been known as the ‘Fertility Fruit’. The Aztecs called it ‘Ahuacatl’ which means the testicle tree. But it doesn’t get this nick name just because of its physical appearance but the high level of B vitamins may assist in hormone regulation of women.  The Avocado truly a gift from Nature’s Pharmacy of Nourishment. 
So now, knowing how great this super fruit is; I have just one more thing to say.... 
“Go’orn... ‘Av an AVO!” xx
  • If you are looking for a new way to incorporate avocados into your diet try making dips or adding it to soups, smoothies, salads and sandwiches. Or if you are feeling bold try the delicious recipe for CHOC-GUAC below. 
1 ripe REED Avocado
3 fresh medjool dates - pitted
2-3 tbs of raw organic cacao powder
pinch of celtic salt
strawberries for garnish
Place dates in a small bowl or container and just cover with warm water. Allow to soak for 10 mins. 
Cut and de-seed the avocado and lightly mush with a fork.
In a food processor blend the soaked dates and salt until smooth. You may need to add 1-2 tbsp of warm water. Add in 2 tbsp of cacao and continue to blend. Add in avocado in  and blend until smooth. Taste and add in extra cacao if necessary. Spoon into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Garnish with fresh strawberries before serving.