Warming spiced turmeric almond, macadamia and coconut milk

image With the cooler weather comes a strong desire for warming, deeply nourishing foods. This light and easily digestible warm drink is perfect for providing some deep nourishment before bed, along with being lovely at any time of the day. The vibrant colour comes from the addition of turmeric, and illustrates the goodness this ingredient brings. Turmeric has been shown to have potent ant-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may help reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and arthritis (1). Sweetness comes from the addition of banana in this recipe, however it is also beautiful to use a teaspoon of raw honey instead of the banana, added at the end. The cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg add natural sweetness, warmth and assist digestion.

Recipe (Serves 1)

Almond, coconut and macadamia nut milk, 200mL (you can also use other types of milk if you prefer)

1/2 organic banana (you can use 1 tsp raw honey instead of the banana, added at the end)

1/2 tsp organic ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric (you can also use 1-2 tsp of finely grated fresh turmeric)

1/2 tsp organic ground ginger (you can also use 1/2 – 1 tsp of finely grated fresh ginger)

1. Place the almond, coconut and macadamia nut milk in a saucepan, and heat gently.

2. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, and continue to heat gently until steaming.

3. Slice the banana into a blender.

4. Add in the steaming milk, and blend on high for a minute or so.

5. Pour into a well loved mug, add a dash of boiling water if you want more liquid, slowly sip and be nourished.

Singletary, K. (2010) ‘Turmeric – An Overview of Potential Health Benefits’, Nutrition Today, Vol 45(5), pp. 216-225.

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Warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla

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Warm drinks always seem to feel nourishing, calming and settling to me, especially when experiencing digestive difficulties. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine recommends warm drinks rather than cold to support digestion, especially for those with certain body types.

Whilst there’s loads of recipes around for smoothies, all the ones I have found are served cold. I wanted a warm drink incorporating banana, and my home-made almond, macadamia and coconut milk.  So I invented this recipe, which turned out so beautifully I wanted to share it……enjoy!

Warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla

Serves 2

1 ripe organic banana, chopped

420mL home-made organic almond, macadamia and coconut milk (see recipe below), approximately

1/2 tsp organic cinnamon, or to taste

1/3rd vanilla bean pod, or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence without sugar as an additive3.

1. Place chopped banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk and cinnamon into a blender (I use a Vitamix however the recipe should work with any blender).

2. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mix or add your vanilla essence.

3. If using a Vitamix, blend on high speed for 6 minutes – the milk should be steaming by then. If using a standard blender, blend mixture until smooth, then place in a saucepan and heat gently until it is warmed through.

4. Pour into two of your favourite cups, add a little boiling water if you wish, and slowly enjoy this nourishing, sweet, warming milk!

Home-made almond, macadamia and coconut milk:

2 tbsp shredded coconut

20g almonds (preferably activated – soaked in water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar, overnight, and peeled)

35g macadamias (preferably activated – soaked in water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar, overnight)

1. Place 2 tbsp shredded coconut into a heat proof bowl.

2. Pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the coconut, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.

3. Place 20g almonds, 35g macadamia nuts, and 1 cup of water into a blender. Add the coconut and water mix, and blend on high speed. I use a Vitamix so it only takes a couple of minutes to blend the mixture completely, however you may need to blend for longer with a lower powered blender.

4. When completely blended through, strain through a nut milk bag or piece of muslin cloth into a jug. You should have approximately 420mL milk.

A quest for house-made almond milk on the Gold Coast, in Northern NSW, Brisbane and Sydney.

image Commercially made almond milk mostly is made of water, thickeners/gums/stabilisers, a very small amount of almonds, and usually some kind of sweetener. Even unsweetened types still have the additives, as do commercially made coconut milk beverages in the cartons, often used in cafes. If you are on a special diet, e.g., low FODMAP or for SIBO, these additives are not recommended. Personally, I do not like the taste of these either to be honest.

Luckily, there is a trend towards the provision of house-made almond milk in Australian cafes, along with a trend for freshly made unsweetened almond milk being available from some small businesses for cafes. Luz Almond milk and Inside Out produce unsweetened milks (check their websites for availabilities). Inside Out also produce an almond milk sweetened with Natvia.

This is very helpful for those of us on special diets for when we are out and about, on the road, and catching up with friends. It can be a mission to find these places sometimes. Also, a natural sweetener is added by some places, e.g. dates, so if you are following a completely sugar free diet, from experience, it is worth checking this beforehand before trekking to these places!

Here is my list of places that provide almond milk without the additives:

1. Naked Treaties, Byron Bay – this lovely little cafe have an unsweetened house-made almond milk option which can be used for hot drinks.

2. The Eatery on Jonson, Byron Bay – this cafe have advised me that they have a house-made almond and coconut milk available for hot drinks, which has some honey added to it. I haven’t tested it due to the added sweetener.

3. Thr1ve, Brisbane CBD – the friendly and obliging staff at this cafe made me a beautiful decaf latte on house made unsweetened almond milk, which I was very grateful for. I had been walking around for a hour trying to find something I could have while on a day trip to Brisbane. Gramercy cafe do make their own almond milk, however they add dates and macadamia nuts to it, the staff politely advised me. I trekked over to Felix Espresso and Winebar, who advertise they stock Luz Almond milk. I was abruptly told by the staff that they only had the sweetened Luz Almond milk, and this was only available for smoothies. Perhaps not a good option to visit if you have special dietary requirements…..I finally found Thr1ve and was well looked after by their staff.

4. The Paleo Cafe, Paddington, Brisbane – unsweetened Luz Almond milk is available here for hot drinks, which has a lovely creamy taste. The staff here have always been happy and obliging with my special dietary requirements.

5. Marie Anita’s, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast – this nice cafe have unsweetened house-made almond milk available for hot drinks. I did find it a bit watery though. I had a hot chocolate, just made with cacao and almond milk (which I make myself at home, and have had at Naked Treaties and the Paleo Cafe, Paddington, and I quite like it as I have grown used to having things without any sweetener. The key is having creamy almond milk), and it tasted like the almond milk was quite weak. It was made with kindness though, which always makes a huge difference to the experience.

6.  Street Bean Espresso, Mosman, Sydney – the friendly staff here happily made made a decaf latte on Inside Out Almond milk, which was nice and creamy, when I was in Sydney on a day trip recently.

7. There is a lady at Mullumbimby Farmers Markets that makes almond milk, hazlenut milk, and brazil/almond/hazelnut milk from activated nuts. She sells it fresh, and it tastes lovely. No hot drinks are available. There is also a stall selling almond milk from activated organic nuts at the Gold Coast Organic farmers markets.

I have also heard Organics at Home, Palm Beach, Gold Coast make their own almond milk from activated almonds, however I haven’t tried it as they don’t offer decaf coffee, and I also haven’t double checked if they put any sweetener it in.

There are many nutritional benefits of fresh almond milk, including that it provides significant amounts of Vitamin E, magnesium, protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I make my own at home using activated, pesticide free nuts and never use the commercially made products with additives – these wouldn’t have significant nutritional benefits since the actual almond content is so low, often around 2-4%. I hope the information in this post is helpful – if you don’t live locally, check your own local cafes for almond milk availability…and please share if you can, to help those who travel!

Green tea with vanilla and a beautiful teapot

I like to take my tea with a beautiful cup and teapot. I enjoy the whole experience more. Perhaps I learnt this whilst living in Japan, although my Italian heritage has also imbued in me a sense do the importance of presentation of meals and drinks. Drinking good quality tea made on tea leaves in a pot, using a fine rimmed cup, can bring a deep satisfaction that a cheap tea bag in an old mug can’t match.  My current favourite tea is a lovely fresh and smooth green with vanilla, which is easy to make yourself at home. I like to buy my green tea from a tea specialist place after going in  an old-fashioned way, smelling the different types and choosing my favourite. There are so many different flavours and kinds, and the good quality ones are completely different from standard supermarket tea bags.

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I’m sure my elegant tea pot makes my tea taste better…….

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Recipe: Green Tea with Vanilla

50g good quality green tea. (such as sencha or houjicha)

organic vanilla bean, 1-2 whole, cut into small pieces

beautiful teapot and fine rimmed cup

stainless steel tea strainer

1.  Place the green tea leaves in a jar.

2. Add in the vanilla bean pieces and mix well. (Store the tea in an airtight jar or special tea container. The flavour of the vanilla will infuse over time).

3. Add 1 tsp per person to a beautiful tea pot.

4. Add approximately 1 cup of water that is just off the boil (check with your tea place about the best temperature for your type of green tea).

5. Let steep for 2-3 minutes.

6. Pour into a fine-rimmed cup through a tea strainer.

7. Savour the experience…..