Spelt carrot mini muffins

Today’s one bowl recipe is a bit of an experiment as I had a few leftover carrots. They turned out so good that Alex gobbled a few straight away. As you can see in the pics below, he’s temperature checking!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup of grated carrot
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup of good quality organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Combine the spelt flour, baking powder and carrot in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Next add the egg, yoghurt and oil and stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Lastly, add cinnamon and vanilla powder and stir to combine.
  5. Grease a mini muffin baking try with coconut oil.
  6. Bake for around 20 to 30 minutes.

I think the smell of these baking is insane! Enjoy everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Jenni Madison of Coconut Magic

Today I’m sharing an interview with Jenni Madison, the founder of Coconut Magic organic coconut oil. Jenni discovered her “magical” oil while living in Thailand in 2009. Today, the successful Coconut Magic brand sells a wide range of coconut food products nationally and internationally.

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Jenni, a passionate vegan is also an author of the health and wellbeing book, The Healthy Coconut. Her book features delicious, nutritious and unusual plant-based whole food recipes. In her interview, Jenni shares her entrepreneurial coconut oil journey, favourite Gold Coast foodie recommendations, tips for healthy dining out and lots more.

  1. Where are you from originally and where do you currently live? I was born in Melbourne but I now live in Kingscliff, NSW. My dad is Polish and my mother Turkish.
  1. How do you juggle your successful business and home life? I am happily married to my husband Andrew, who joined Coconut Magic full-time in 2014. Andrew has been a great support for me and we frequently travel together on business as we don’t have any children. Fortunately our skills complement each other but on occasion we do employ staff to help with any additional workload.
  1. Tell us about your Coconut Magic story; where and how it all begin? In 2009 I was ‘called’ to Ko Samui Island in Thailand with an attractive offer of a marketing position at a reputable health resort. The initial agreement was set as a two-year employment contract. As it turned out though, the cosmos had something else planned for me. When the job fell through after just 4 weeks, I had become quite sick.  A few locals recommended I use coconut oil to help with my chronic digestive and skin ailments. After a few pertinent signs, I finally relented and this is when the “magic” began.

I was amazed at the transformation of my inner health and skin.

People around me were amazed as well. I started to research studies on this amazing medicinal oil. As I began to learn, I shared my experience with others. People began asking me to source this unique coconut oil. As I kept going back for more, my supplier asked me what I was doing out there on the island as everyone wanted to buy coconut oil!

I replied “I don’t really know, but I feel I have found my purpose and mission. People are asking me to get them this coconut oil and I simply love doing it and sharing it’s benefits”, I then said “it’s like Magic” and that was how and when the name Coconut Magic was created. Later, during a Skype conversation with my sister in Melbourne, she mentioned that she couldn’t find a coconut oil in Australia as wonderful as the Coconut Magic brand which she had tried whilst visiting me in Thailand. It was then that I decided to come home and to bring Coconut Magic with me.

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  1. These days even large supermarkets like Woolworths are selling coconut oil! What should customers look for when buying coconut oil? When reading labels, the words virgin and organic are important. However purity is key when selecting a good quality coconut oil. This can be noticed by the taste, texture and clarity of the oil. A common complaint I hear about coconut oil (before people find Coconut Magic) is that it tastes so bad! They are put off by the strong taste or smell of coconut oil that can be overpowering in their food and cooking. This is a sign of an inferior coconut oil, made cheaply using high amounts of heat in the process. If coconut oil is not extracted properly it can easily turn rancid and this is not only horrible to taste and smell but also very unhealthy to consume or apply to your skin. I think the clean taste and purity of our oil keeps many of our customers so faithfully loyal to our brand.
  1. How would you describe your diet? I first became a vegetarian at 16. Over the years I have transitioned from eating a vegetarian diet to a fully vegan diet. I eat this way because I enjoy the feeling of eating light and clean. Plant-based foods are high vibrational foods with easily absorbable nutrition and nourishment. It is also my personal preference to make food choices that are sustainable, don’t cause any animal suffering and unnecessarily deplete our earths beautiful resources. It is my understanding that the meat and dairy industry have used their extraordinary marketing budgets to lead us to believe nutrition facts about food that simply aren’t true. I now choose to remain independent from this type of propaganda, well as much as possible anyway.
  1. Organic versus non-organic, what’s your preference? Organic of course. Clean and chemical free food just as nature intended.

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  1. Do you cook? If so what are your personal top 5 favourite foods or ingredients and why? There are so many favourite foods I can think of that I love to use daily!

Coconut oil and coconut nectar. I love the oil for cooking and raw desserts, and the nectar is such a delightful sweetener in anything that requires a touch of heaven.

Other cold pressed oils such as olive oil and hemp oil. I like these on my salad dressings, and they play a big part in a lot of raw meals such as zucchini pesto pasta and raw tacos.

Fresh herbs like coriander, parsley, mint and basil. I just love herbs in both cooked and raw food and in salads. Mint is superb in a green smoothie

Lemon, I love lemons! There is something about that fresh alkalising tang that lemon can give to a smoothie, a salad, or a glass of water!

Nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. I make milk and cheeses from nuts and hearty lentil soups and curries with legumes. These are a must to complete a wholefood plant-based lifestyle.

  1. Do you have any favourite Gold Coast restaurants and why? Choosing a healthy plant-based lifestyle can limit eating out options anywhere. My husband and I eat at the Greenhouse Factory all of the time. The team are young, dynamic and passionate about making a difference. We truly love them and their vegan food.I recommend the first two restaurants below because they have great raw food options, are fully vegan and organic. The following options, 3 and 4 have good raw and vegan options and selected organic food. They all do great juices and smoothies too!My favourite restaurants on the Gold Coast include:
    1. Greenhouse Factory
    2. Mandalas Art Café
    3. BSKT Café
    4. Marie Anita’s Café
  1. Can you share some tips on eating out and staying healthy? Sure, the main dangers to look out for are toxic cooking oils such as canola or vegetable oil. Refined white flour and sugar which are not good at all. Sauces which are usually full of sugar, chemicals or natural flavours in other words MSG. And fish is often farmed and full of radiation, chemicals and antibiotics. It’s sad but true!
  1. What is your regular comfort meal? I think I may have a few of these. Perhaps something sweet like raw chocolate or coconut ice-cream. For some warm comfort food I like potatoes. I make some potato chips either roasted or cooked in coconut oil, or some sweet potato mash with lots of coconut oil and pink salt.

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  1. Do you have any guilty food pleasures? Yes, I do. I love coffee. I like a strong hot soy latte! But I skip the guilt and just indulge in the pleasure.
  1. What has been some of your biggest challenges or highlights since running Coconut Magic? My biggest highlights are when people write to me to say how much they have benefited from our product. Recently a woman told me she was using a regular coconut oil to treat her baby’s cradle cap and it wasn’t working. Just one week after switching to Coconut Magic her baby’s cradle cap was completely gone. Another lady told me that her sex life has never been the same since she heard me share about using coconut oil in the bedroom! I get these kind of stories and appreciation daily and it makes it all worthwhile. Other highlights include our rapid growth as the industry soared in 2013 and 2014. It has also been very exciting to create new products such as our nectar, vinegar and raw bars that have expanded our range. It was quite a challenge initially as I was an entrepreneur with no funds but a passion and idea. Thankfully, the right people came along who believed and invested in me and that is why everything today became possible.
  1. And lastly, where does Jenni Madison shop for groceries or fruit and veg? Being in the health food industry, I’m fortunate to buy direct from wholesalers. For veggies we go to the Miami organic markets, Murwullimbah markets, or we get a home delivery of organic fruits and vegetables each week from Munch Crunch Organic located in Byron Bay.

If you’ve enjoyed Jenni’s interview, stick around and read my other Gold Coast foodie interviews. Better yet, subscribe to my newsletter for healthy organic recipes, food investigations and reviews.

Gluten-free pumpkin pancakes

These easy gluten-free pumpkin pancakes are inspired by my late mum’s pumpkin fritter recipe. I’ve fond memories of wintry Sunday afternoons sitting at the kitchen table biting into a warm pumpkin fritter sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Sadly, mum lost her battle with diabetes three years ago in South Africa. It saddens me that her disease and death could have been prevented had she received holistic advice, nutrition and proper care rather than a cocktail of drugs.

But everything in life has a purpose. Mum’s death made me assess the quality of my life and health. I wasn’t always healthy. I thought people who bought organic food were snobs or hippies. I was raised on soft drinks, white sugar, margarine, cereal…you name it. And I was plagued by gut and digestive issues. But that’s a story for another post. Let’s move onto the pancake recipe shall we?

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My not so eggscellent news on free-range eggs

I simply couldn’t imagine a life without eggs. Scrambled, boiled, poached, fried…you name it, I love it. After a recent conversation with a friend about free-range eggs, I decided to do some research.

Did you know the word free-range is a loose term as official standards for free-range farming don’t exist.

Yes, there are industry bodies and associations which all cite their own codes of practice but joining is voluntary. So even though your packaging may claim free-range, the fate of the chickens are entirely up to the farmer or egg producer. The hefty free-range price tag we pay may be a waste of our hard earned cash.

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False labelling of eggs

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission false labelling of free-range eggs are quite common. In the article Pirovic, a large egg producer was fined $300,000 for false labelling. Their so called “free-range” eggs were housed in crowded barns, some never seeing daylight. It’s also common practice to snip off beaks to discourage fighting and to use lighting to trick hens into laying more eggs than normal. Several other producers have been fined by the federal court and the ACCC.

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Organic vs free-range eggs

So you may be wondering if there’s any difference between organic and free-range eggs? Definitely!

Organic certification ensures that chickens are free from antibiotics, hormones and additives and fed a natural chemical free organic diet. Chickens are allowed a lot more outside time and space to roam. And beak trimming is also prohibited.

Not all free-range chickens receive the same treatment…fresh air and sunshine, if they’re lucky but that’s about it.

Naturally I’ve always purchased organic eggs from my farmers market. But imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find a website for my free-range organic egg producer. Mmm…in this day and age, a lack of transparency raises huge red flags! 

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National standardisation of free-range industry

In October 2015, the Federal Government took small steps towards producing a national standard for free range egg production. Naturally this was opposed by a few large Australian egg producers, one even claiming that consumers didn’t really care whether chickens were caged or not. And surprisingly the president of the American Egg Farmers Association, Ken Klippen warned Australian farmers against supporting free-range laws.

He claimed caged chickens are healthier and happier.  

Where to buy your free-range or organic eggs

What you can do to support the industry

  • Write to your local MP or to government to demand a national standard for free-range certification for chicken farming
  • Do you research and investigate brands before you buy
  • Support farmers practising true free-range farming
  • Or raise your own chickens

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Remember, as a consumer, you have a voice and you hold the cash! So make yourself heard. And if you have any more recommendations on where to buy organic free-range eggs, please let me know in the comments.

 

 

Review of Dune Cafe – Palm Beach

The breakfast menu at Dune Cafe comes highly recommended by Palm Beach locals. Overlooking the pirate park and lagoon, its the perfect choice for young families. The owners have even carved out a small play area to accommodate their many junior patrons; thoughtfully providing parents a brief respite to enjoy their coffee.

Dune Cafe Facebook

Source: Dune Cafe Facebook

The food here is fresh and sourced from local suppliers as far as possible including a handful of organic menu options. Beautifully presented dishes and smooth creamy coffee plus a variety of milk choices are on offer. The counter houses freshly baked vegan and gluten-free cakes, muffins and cookies.

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Expect to queue on weekends as locals and tourists descend upon the cafe. Fortunately there’s plenty of covered outdoor tables. Or if you’re after a quick latte or chai to go, there’s always the huge grassy patch outside favoured by dog loving customers. My favourite dish is the grilled local haloumi served with greens and poached eggs drizzled with roasted pistachio oil, lemon, mint and almond pesto, herb salad and turkish toast.

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Reasonable prices and a bustling but relaxed family friendly atmosphere all add to the appeal of Dune Cafe. A pity that the service doesn’t match the great food as staff appear to be rushed and a tad unfriendly.

If you’ve been to Dune Cafe, tell me about your experience in the comments below. Or perhaps you have a healthy Palm Beach recommendation, then please share.