Trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world

Posts Tagged ‘cooking

Birthday brownie with a tangy, coconut, cheesecake buttercream

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Ambitious heading, right. But well, look at them.

So, it’s someone special’s birthday tomorrow and I made the obligatory Korean seaweed soup, (miyeok guk 미역국) which is traditionally eaten throughout pregnancy and after giving birth; first as a ritual to give thanks to the goddesses for delivery of the baby and in the hopes the baby would have a long life. The tradition is maintained on birthdays because of its association with birth and longevity.

Of course, in ridiculous sleeping patterns as per usual, and after finishing chatting with some friends and reading a book at 2am, I had an epiphany, a birthday cake was needed! However, this person is not too fond of sweet, western desserts, which is perfect, as I’m also trying to slowly ween my friends and family onto more healthy, wholesome food and sweets, one cake at a time!

After mentally scanning the contents of my cupboard and fridge. I did what any normal person would do on a Sunday at 2am, I decided to freestyle a gluten, flour, egg, dairy and (nearly) sugar-free birthday cake.

Happy birthday??? You non-vegan, celiac person….I know you don’t even like western style cakes, but please be my guinea-pig sampler and try this whole*istic brownie anyway….

Yep. Totes normal.

Anyway it’s good. Really good. It cracked and went crisp, and had a crust on the outside and fudgey on the inside. It’s not dry and cakey. It’s rich and it’s filling.

But, I’m not gonna lie.

At first bite, it was “What. the. shiz. is. this. shiz……it tastes…..shizzy”

But then it tasted amazing.

Outta this world amazing.

The chocolate kicked in. The texture was soft and…what’s another word for moist, I can’t stand that word, but for lack of a better word….ooey-gooey and….succulent?

It doesn’t have that sickly, sugary sweetness, nor the taste of butter, which I imagine most people will miss. (Butter ya’ waistline or your artery’s won’t) But I guess I am one of those strange freaks who actually prefers the taste of something more clean and healthy and feels happier knowing that what I am eating is actually good for me.

It’s still addictive (help! I  just woke up and had some for breakfast. FML.  Meeting up with a friend soon and taking it all for her!), decadent and delicious, it just may take a bite or two for your tastebuds and synapses to synchronise and realise that yes this a brownie, but not the brownie you’re used to.

I didnt add any refined sugar, but I only had Ghiradelli semi sweet choc chips which have sugar in them. Also, I would add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to these myself, but pretty sure that that would be the straw that broke the camel’s back for this person.

So without further ado:

Fudgey Brownies with coconut butter cream

Ingredients – Brownies

1 1/2 cups black beans (yup beans!)
1/3 cup maple syrup / honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup pureed dates
1/2 cup chocolate – melted
2 tbsp almond /walnut / coconut butter

1/3 cup oats – processed into oat flour
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup walnuts (or whatever you want to mix in; coconut, goji berries, cherries etc)


1. Ahhhhh…..put everything except walnuts in a food processor. In whatever order, because you just want to blend the absolute crazy outta it until it’s as smooth as a baby’s bum.

2. Scoop out. Should be quite thick and a pain in the ass to spread out.

3. Place in 175°C oven for 15-18 minutes.
(I did mine for 18 mins, but it’s a little toaster oven (built in ovens are a rarity on K-Town) and it has this glitch where when I close the door the dial likes to switch itself up about 40°C, so depending on whether I remember this, cooking times are varied, as are burnt patches. This time I remembered – so crisis averted!)

4. Let it chill out for 10 minutes to firm up before trying!

Ingredients – Coconut butter cream

1/2 cup coconut

1 cup cashews

1 lemon – juiced

1/4 cup coconut cream

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp almond/soy milk

1 vanilla bean – centre scooped out


1. Pulse coconut in food processor until it is a wet, grainy, sand like consistency.

2. Add cashews and pulse until it is same wet, grainy, sand like consistency.

3. Add in lemon, coconut cream, maple syrup and vanilla bean. Pulse. Mixture should blend together, then start to separate and go a bit oily.

4. Add in milk to emulsify. Blend on high until it slightly thickens and smoothens out. A Vita-mix will get it smooth smooth, in my mini food processor there were still fine coconutty micro-particles which provides a nice contrast to the smooth fudgey brownie.

5. Spread out thick on to cool brownie.

6. Top with walnuts or whatever you desire.

7. Slice and dice and wish someone a very happy birthday!
Or eat it. All of it. But just remember all the beans in there, and beans, beans are good for your heart, but beans, beans make you…….


Written by ayearinpatissiere

October 1, 2012 at 05:18

Keen, yah? For Quinoa?

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Keeeeeeeeen waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Say what?

I always thought it was pronounced, “Kwin-o-a”

Kind of like “Hermes” was Hermees instead of Emez. Or “Givenchy” was Givenchee instead of Shee-von-shee.


But I’m from ‘Straya mate. We have a collective word for all of you, youse. Whad d’youse wanna ‘av for lunch ‘ey? Vegemite sanga’s?”

Anyway, apparently it’s keen-wah. And it’s delicious. And it’s healthy as. And if you buy the Rainbow quinoa, or mix the yellow, red and black varieties you can get a bright and festive mix! But what makes this humble little grain the ‘Supergrain of the Andes’?

Well, my friends, scientifically speaking, Chenopodium quinoa is a seed, most closely related to the beets, spinach and tumbleweed family.

It’s a psuedocereal, looking all grain-like and stuff, wanna be hanging out with the couscous, burghul and polenta’s. Quinoa is like that ridiculously smart, beautiful, perfect student who everyone wants to be like. In Korea, where competition is fierce there is a slang term ‘umchinah’ 엄친아 (son) or umchinttal (daughter) which directly translates to “mother’s friend’s son” and refers to that holier-than-thou-person you’ve never met but already hate because your mum pratts on about them all the bloody time. They can do no wrong, even their crap is gold-plated. And unfortunately, you are always compared to them “Why can’t you be like my friend’s son? He studied at Seoul National University and did post-grad at Stamford. Now he’s a dentist and drives a BMW 7 series. What have you done?”

But ah, anyway, back to quinoa. Unlike it’s wheat companions, quinoa is gluten free. However it’s high mineral and protein levels is what really makes it the “Supergrain of the Andes.” Take a look at the comparison with couscous below or here:

Quinoa vs Couscous overall nutritional info

Quinoa vs Couscous Mineral Content comparison

Quinoa is the clear winner.

Let’s not mention that it is high in proteins and delivers all of the essential 9 amino acids with especially high levels of Lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. These amino acids are generally found in animal products, making quinoa essential for vegetarian/vegan diets to ensure adequate protein intake. For example, an egg has approximately 5-6 grams of protein, 100grams chicken breast has 20grams protein. A typical serving of quinoa is about 1 cup, which is roughly 200grams, so a serving of quinoa has 8grams of protein. Not too shabby if you add in some beans, nuts, seeds and tofu.

As you can see from the tables above, quinoa is also high in fibre, magnesium and iron when compared with other grains.

Quinoa is also versatile, being able to be eaten sweet with yogurt, nuts and berries for breakfast or dessert, flattened and baked into crackers, rolled and grilled into burger patties or pressed and sweetened into energy bars.

Anyway, on this lovely Saturday afternoon, I decided to make a festive salad for my lovely friends.

Quinoa whole*istic crunch salad


2 cups organic quinoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder

1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups roasted capsicums

2 cobs corn (I used Korean purple corn cobs)
1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup chopped cashews
2 tbsp sesame seeds unhulled
2 tbsp black sesame seeds/chia seeds/poppy seeds
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds


1. Rinse quinoa. Add 3 cups of water and salt and bring to boil. Once it reaches boil, turn down heat to low, simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and it fluffs up.
See beautiful video here if unsure how to cook quinoa.

2. Take quinoa off heat. Fold through onion powder. Stand and let cool.      
Rinsed, uncooked quinoa.
Cooked quinoa.

3. Take corn off cob. Rinse.
Purple Korean corn cobs. Chewy. Delicious.

4. Add corn and coconut oil to frypan and cook until corn begins to brown.
Amazing flavour. Amazing aroma. Reminds me of this Vietnamese street food, Bap Xao Tom Bo.

5. Add in chopped roast garlic, capsicum and corn and mix by hand.


Sure sign you’re turning Korean: You mix things by hand with a plastic glove – and use scissors in the kitchen.

6. To make crunch: toast all ingredients except sesame and poppy seeds. Add these quick cooking seeds last, they only need about 1 minute.
Sprinkle over salad and mix through when ready to eat.

I also served this salad with a tangy dressing, that was so versatile and loved by one of my guests that he added it to everything we ate! Flattered.

Tangy, *slutty dressing (*Easy as and goes with anything)
Can easily be made vegan, I only had plain yogurt on hand, and determined to work with what I had in my flat. Just substitute for almond yogurt/soy yogurt/silken tofu

Makes 2 cups


1 cup soaked, organic cashews
2x 85g tub yogurt*
*(whilst I usually buy plain yogurt with 5g natural sugar, I only had yoplait ‘plain’ yogurt which has a whopping 12g sugar, 7g added. I would suggest adding a tbsp maple syrup/honey if using good, plain yogurt)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 lemon – juiced
1/2 tsp salt


1. Add all ingredients into blender/food processor. Blend the crap outta it until smooth. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or until it thickens.

Blend, blend, blend. Will get much smoother than this.

2. Eat.

Too easy right? Told you it was a slutty dressing.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 29, 2012 at 19:03

To market, to market……

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So, I finally took the leap of faith and quite impulsively decided to get things cracking and make some stuff. Call me crackers……hahaha

I’ve always had grandiose ideas of one day opening my own cafe, having a range of my own nutritious, daringly different and holistic products, but I always made up some other excuse as to why I couldn’t / shouldn’t do it.

There is an abundance, a complete market saturation of ‘health food’ products in Australia. So much so, just like violence or sex in movies, (why is it though that when you’re visiting your family for Christmas and watching a movie and everything will be PG rated until your mum/dad/grandma walks by or sits down and suddenly there is a full-on porno sex scene or a colourfully explicit rant – I’m thinking Billy Bob in ‘Bad Santa’.) that we have become desensitised to all things organic, holistic, vegan, gluten-free, nutritious what have you…..

However, here in Korea, health foods are quite different. There is an obsession with well-being food, and a focus on the medicinal properties of food. I have learnt to appreciate food differently since living here and also focus on seasonal foods, a practice more strictly adhered to here (for instance, samgyetang 삼계탕 is a temperature hot chicken soup that is traditionally eaten in the hottest part of the stifling hot and humid Korean summer – fight fire with fire mentality I guess, fighting! 화이팅!) as it is brutally expensive for out of season, imported produce.

Whilst I absolutely love the high protein korean drinking snacks, dried anchovies, squid, cuttlefish 오징어, which are a welcome change from the high fat, high salt chips, cheese, cured meats and crackers Australian drinking snacks (although a double edged sword – it’s what I’m craving as well, oh Prosciutto, Parmigiano, Emmental, lavosh crackers – although my almond and black sesame crackers are a dead ringer for said crackers – how I miss thee….) I noticed a distinct lack of actual healthy/energy type bars or convenience foods.

cuttlefish 오징어

Due to my working hours, I usually have a smoothie for breakfast around 11am and then won’t eat my next meal until I finish work at 9:30pm. I have some fruit during the day, not wanting a full-on meal like a sandwich or Korean set to fill me up and make me too tired to teach. However some days, I want something more.

Something like a muesli bar or a biscuit that won’t make me feel like shit or guilty, because even though I like to think I don’t succumb to unrealistic ideals or notions of beauty, essentially I’m a woman living in a highly developed, highly materialistic city that places an obscene focus on the superficial, equating beauty with how good/decent a person you are (an ‘ugly’ person is generally less respected/trusted than a supposed ‘beautiful’ and thin person here in K-town) Unfortunately, women, and some men, feel guilty for any food we eat thanks to the mass media and ideals of beauty so deeply ingrained into our psyches from a very young age.

Also, I live in Gangnam. Gangnam style. Gangnam face.

I’ve tried a multitude of bars here, post to come soon. I’ve painstakingly translated every ingredient only to become horrified at the amount of sugar, corn syrups or artificial ingredients to walk away disgruntled, empty handed and hungry.

So I noticed a massive niche for the types of simple, nutritious ‘fast’ slow food that I was used to preparing/buying back home in Australia.

Artificial flavours, preservative, chemical, refined sugar free products.

Food that not only energises and nourishes you, but tastes bloody good aswell!

I’ve launched a small range of products. I must admit that these weren’t the right markets to try and sell this type of western style holistic, health food to. Disheartingly, the first thing I sold out of were the ‘locked and loaded’ cookies (a mix of almond and hazelnut flour, coconut, coconut oil, goji berries, gluten-free oats, choc chips and cacao butter) as the crowd was really just looking for traditional bakery items like cookies, cupcakes and brownies. Although, did get to chat to the mayor of Seoul and also get interviewed on KTV!

The flavours and ideas (crackers and dip is a new concept to Koreans, let alone flavours like korma hummus, cookie dough, blackbean and hazelnut and chili choc dips. Most were not wanting to dip the sample cracker, however were more than happy milling about munching on the ‘free’ samples) would be more appreciated at a food market targeted to people interested in more organic, alternative varieties of food, like the Seoul Marche festival coming up in mid-October which, if all goes well, I will be having a stall there too!

There are also some other possible collaborations with cafes around the place in the works, however until then, if you want to get your hands on anything, email me at wholeistic@mail.com and I’d be more than happy to send anything out.

Seriously considering getting an online shop up and running, but a few creases to iron out first, and still at 29, I do not own an iron. I still use my GHD to not only straighten my hair, but straighten my clothes too….sometimes whilst I’m actually wearing them…..old habits die hard yeah.

The market stall

L-R: Crackers: Almond, fig + rosemary (my favourite!), whole*istic crackers (quinoa, brown rice, polenta, mixed seeds and spices), brown rice, quinoa + olive. Other flavours were almond + black sesame seed and almond, maple + cinnamon.

L-R: whole*istic balls: Peanut cookie, date, cashew + goji, Apricot, almond + coconut, carrot cake, hazelnut chocolate.

a new sensation: dip and crackers

Cookie Dough dip.

Korma Hummus

Blackbean + hazelnut dip.

Almost raw (roasted almonds and hazelnuts) vegan and gluten free tangy blueberry cheesecake.
Dang it’s good!

Vegan, gluten, flour, egg, dairy free ‘locked and loaded’ cookies.

Chili Chocolate, goji and walnut cookies.

Sweet sesame bars.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 24, 2012 at 18:47

“Shake the dickens outta it” and skin a head of garlic in under 10 seconds

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Seriously, this works, the fresher the garlic the quicker those skins come off – but you should be using the freshest shiz anyway.

I know I sound like a total pleb saying this, but has prepping food ever been this fun?

Used to get excited about skinning up, now I’m all about getting those skins off…

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 21, 2012 at 04:52